MANILA - After struggling with censorship issues, filmmaker Brillante Mendoza was finally able to show his award-winning film "Kinatay (The Execution of P)" at the UP Film Institute (UPFI) Cine Adarna on Thursday night to a full audience.
Mendoza, who won the "Best Director" award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, was given a permit to show his film after an audience with MTRCB officials. He also happily announced that the MTRCB had given him a 5-year permit to show "Kinatay" in any outlet.
About 2 days before the scheduled screening of "Kinatay", Mendoza was in a quandary on whether to fight it out with the MTRCB or to have his film classified, risking possible censorship or the editing out of parts of his film.
“So, ang ginawa ko, in as much as gusto kong matuloy ang premiere showing, sabi ko, sige, magbabayad ako for the classification of my film,” said Mendoza during the open forum after the showing of the film.
He was instead invited to the MTRCB office to shed light on the issue last Tuesday. “I was asked to bring a copy of my film for showing at the review board and so the following day, I immediately sent one,” Mendoza said.
According to Dante Mendoza, Brillante’s other screen name, MTRCB left the film untouched. “Walang pinutol. Everything is intact,” Mendoza said happily.
However, despite the recent MTRCB decision, Mendoza said he will still continue fighting against censorship and state regulation of films. “I am still for anti-censorship,” he confirmed.
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) had earlier advised the UPFI against showing unapproved films, despite the university's call for academic freedom and freedom of speech.
According to the MTRCB, the UP Film Center (now the UPFI) had been restructured as the UPFI and therefore was not free from censorship. The issue became a tug-of-war between UP and the state regulatory body.
Just the same, the Philippine premiere of the movie was set on July 30 at the UPFI Cine Adarna, weeks ahead of the MTRCB meeting. The local film community was very keen on the premiere, and "Kinatay" stars made the rounds promoting the movie at show business events.
During the late Douglas Quijano’s wake at the Heritage Park in Taguig City a couple of months ago, “Kinatay” lead actress Maria Isabel Lopez and MTRCB chief Ma. Consoliza Laguardia bumped into each other.
When Laguardia inquired about Mendoza's initial unwillingness to submit his film for review, Lopez replied: “Natatakot po yata si Direk (Mendoza) na ma-censor ang film."
Meanwhile, the UPFI management is readying its position paper to assert its independence from state regulation.
According to its administrators, academic freedom in a national university is enshrined in the Constitution. -Boy Villasanta, abs-cbnNEWS.com