MANILA, Philippines -- After earning international acclaim early this year, Brillante Mendoza's "Thy Womb" will finally reach its "priority audience" when it hits theaters across the Philippines on Christmas Day.
"Thy Womb," directed by Brillante Mendoza, stars Aunor (above) as a Badjao midwife.
"Excited ako na marami nang makakapanood ng mga pelikulang ginagawa ko dito sa Pilipinas. Iba kasi 'pag pinapalabas ang pelikula mo sa sariling mong bansa," Mendoza told ABS-CBN News at the sidelines of the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Parade of Stars last Sunday.
"Thy Womb," which stars Nora Aunor, is among the eight competing entries in this year's MMFF. It earned a last-minute slot in the local film fest after Unitel Productions, Inc. withdrew its entry, "Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang," which was to star Zsa Zsa Padilla.
"Gusto ko rin maramdaman kung paano tanggapin ng Filipino audience 'yung film ko dito sa Pilipinas, so exciting 'yun," Mendoza added. "This is about Filipinos, my story is about Filipinos, kaya dapat ang unang-unang makapanood at maka-appreciate niyan, mga Filipinos."
Set on the islands of Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, "Thy Womb" tells the story of a Badjao midwife (Aunor) who is coping with her own infertility.
It also stars Bembol Roco, Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral.
After initially failing to earn a slot in the MMFF, the film went on to reap recognition from international award-giving bodies, including the Toronto International Film Festival and its counterpart in Venice, Italy.
Last month, Mendoza won the Achievement in Directing for "Thy Womb" at the 6th Asia Pacific Screen Awards, while Aunor bagged the award for Best Performance by an Actress.
Following its international success, "Thy Womb" is widely expected to reap even more awards at the local MMFF.
But for Mendoza, the Filipino audience should also discern the "merit and worth ng ibang pelikula [na kalahok sa MMFF], kasi hindi pa naman natin sila napapanood."
"At saka mga awards, syempre nakakatulong 'yan, pero at the same time, dapat hindi 'yan talaga 'yung pangunahing basehan at priority mo. Kasi dapat ang priority mo, makagawa ng magandang pelikula. Once na magawa mo na iyon, na-achieve mo na 'yung goal mo," he said.