MANILA, Philippines – Critically acclaimed filmmaker Brillante Mendoza drew criticisms after he was accused of endorsing both vice presidential contenders Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II of Liberal Party and Sen. Loren Legarda of Nacionalista Party.
Mendoza, the 2009 Cannes best director, has directed Roxas’ political advertisements. The “Kinatay” director also agreed to direct “Buhos,” a Legarda-produced documentary film about climate change.
“Buhos” was officially launched Monday, the same day that Roxas showed up in a gathering that was attended by his celebrity supporters.
Mendoza’s agreement to do “Buhos” has raised eyebrows among supporters of Roxas.
The filmmaker, however, said politics had nothing to do with his projects with Roxas and Legarda since he is not endorsing the two candidates.
"Let me make it clear that I have not publicly endorsed any candidate. Sa akin na lang iyon and how I will cast my vote… Let's leave out politics," said Mendoza.
He disclosed that he did the climate change documentary even before the election fever began. He said he started filming after the onslaught of storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” last year.
When asked about his deal with Roxas, meanwhile, Mendoza declined to give details.
Mendoza also described himself as a “freelance filmmaker” whose aim is to make substantial projects commissioned by different companies and personalities. He cited ABS-CBN’s star-studded environment project.
Tribeca Film Fest
Mendoza just came back from New York City, United States where his movie "Lola" screened at the Tribeca Film Festival to rave reviews.
"Lola" drew a full-house crowd at the Tribeca Film Festival screenings over the weekend.
It is a tale of two grandmothers drawn by fate. They both bear the consequences of a crime involving their grandsons. The film explores how far a grandmother (lola) would go just to help their grandchildren. One is raising money for her grandson's burial, while the other is raising money to get her grandson out of jail.
Mendoza received nothing but praise, not only from moviegoers but from other filmmakers as well.
“I really loved the film. And I don't say that too often. I think it was told in a very straightforward way. The emotions, they were not pushed upon you. They were just told,” said Swedish filmmaker Jonathan Lewald.
The Tribeca Film Festival provides filmmakers like Mendoza a platform to reach new audiences and distributors. This year, festival founder Robert de Niro said his festival is going virtual to reach 40 million viewers worldwide
De Niro said: “If you can't be in New York to experience the festival first hand, for the first time you can now experience it online and on demand. Wherever you are, you can be part of Tribeca.”
Mendoza, however, said he is not ecstatic about the announcement.
“If you really wanted to watch a film, you have to have that whole experience of going to the cinema, lining-up , getting a ticket and sitting [before] a huge screen. I think that's what cinema is all about,” he said.
Mendoza's film won the grand jury prize in the 2010 Miami International Film Festival last March. It was also selected as the best film in the 2009 Dubai Film Festival.
Mendoza's other film, "Kinatay," won him the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
International recognition continues to come Mendoza's way.
Mendoza, along with other Filipino filmmakers Aureus Solito, Raya Martin and Jose “Pepe” Diokno, were all included in a London-published book, "Take 100: Future of Films."
It is a book that features 100 of the most exceptional and emerging film directors in the world. They were chosen by a panel of internationally known film festival programmers. The book will be released in May, but is now available for pre-orders online.
“I'm really extremely honored with the recognition. Ito kasi ‘yong sinasabi ko na parang bonus ng trabaho ko because I really enjoy what I'm doing. As an artist, I find fulfillment with what I'm doing especially with the kind of films I'm doing,” Mendoza said. Reports from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News, and Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau