MANILA -- Going topless for Christine Bermas in her underwater shots and the lip-locking scenes for male actors Paolo Gumabao and Vince Rillon were not yet daring enough for director Brillante Mendoza’s sexy drama, “Sisid.”
The director purposely removed the risqué scenes from the film.
“Maraming scenes na nakita ang private parts ni Paolo and Vince,” Mendoza told ABS-CBN News. “Full frontal talaga, pero hindi ko ginamit because hindi naman ‘yun ang binebenta.
“Meron pang version ni Vince at si Christine naked on the beachfront, pero hindi ko rin ginamit. Kasi hindi kailangan.
“Why did I shoot those scenes? Hindi ko pa alam kung ano ang mangyayari sa editing if the story will stand or not.”
Mendoza, however, announced he will make a director’s cut of “Sisid” that he plans to submit to international film festivals abroad.
“Actually, the more delicate scenes may pupuntahan naman,” he explained. “I am saving those for my director’s cut. Hindi masasayang. The actors did not bare for nothing.”
Mendoza is not new to international film festivals. His "Tirador” (Slingshot) won the Caligary Prize in the Berlin International Film Festival in 2007.
“Captive” competed in the same festival in 2012. He won the award as best director for “Kinatay” at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in 2009.
Doing “Sisid” has been a challenge for the award-winning director. “Hindi ako nahirapan sa underwater scenes, dahil DOP [director of photography] ko ang pinapalubog ko,” Mendoza said.
“Pinapakita na lang nila sa akin na ginawa nila ang mga instructions ko. Especially the actors. Honestly, nahihirapan ako kung paano kong hindi gagawin na exploitative sa mga actors, especially the delicate scenes.
“When you watch it, nandu’n ka pa din sa mga characters mo. Hindi parang na-exploit mo sila or maipakita mo ang mga love scenes. I really had to balance everything.”
“Kailangan mayoon siyang narrative, meron siyang syntax. At the end of the day, screenplay ang pinag-uusapan namin. Pelikula ito, so dapat may kwento siya.”
Based on a true-to-life story, “Sisid” was able to showcase one of our beautiful islands, both land and sea. The film will be streamed on Vivamax starting March 25.
“Sana hindi tayo masanay sa streaming platform,” Mendoza maintained. “Gusto nating bumalik ang sinehan at dumami ang nanonood. Ito ang nakasanayan natin.
“Ang responsibilidad ngayon hindi lang nasa filmmakers, sa storymakers, nasa film producers na rin at sa industry as a whole.
“Dapat pagandahin natin ang ating mga nilalabas, para ma-engaño pa ang tao na nanonood. Hindi lang dapat silang i-push na manood. Kung wala naman silang magandang mapapanood, hindi rin sila manonood.”
Mendoza’s flesh-baring films undoubtedly make money. “‘Yun talaga ang pinapanood ng mga tao, fortunately or unfortunately,” he said. “Sinabi ko na before, sex sells.
“So ano ang magiging responsibilidad ng artist kung gano’n ang given? We were given the freedom to create the story.
“Inject pa rin natin ang relevant na issues, be it about environment, society, institution and all. Pipilitin natin ‘yun.
“Nasa artist na or filmmaker na ‘yun kung paano mo gagamitin ang power mo at opportunidad mo na hindi magmumukhang exploitative, kung hindi parang sumasakay ka na lang sa agos.”
Marine biologist Jason (Gumabao) goes to Pola with his cancer-stricken wife, Abby (Kylie Verzosa). Midway into the story, Jason and his diving assistant, Dennis (Rillon), get attracted to one another and subsequently give in to the desires of the flesh.
Individually, however, the guys find themselves in contradicting problems. Jason and Abby have been trying to have a baby for seven years, while Dennis gets his girlfriend, Tanya (Bermas), pregnant.
While the cast of “Sisid” was in Pola, Mindoro, Mendoza requested the actors – Gumabao and Rillon – to shed all inhibitions and immerse themselves in their respective characters.
“Tigilan niyo muna ang pagka-lalaki niyo for 10 or 15 days,” Mendoza instructed his lead actors. “Mag-immerse kayo. Huwag muna kayong mag-isip ng babae. Kayo munang dalawa. That was my instruction to them.”
“Sisid” is actually Mendoza’s third film that was shot in Pola, Mindoro. The first was the lesbian film “Palitan,” about religion, marriage, family and society, shown late last year. Last month came the suspense-thriller, “Bahay na Pula.”