MANILA, Philippines - Award-winning filmmaker Brillante Mendoza urged the government to start a program that will financially support independent filmmakers and to build a no holds barred cinema house that will showcase indie movies.
In an interview on "Headstart" on ANC on Friday, Mendoza said that support for independent movies only come after the movies gain recognition abroad. Most of the time too, the government is unaware that there are movies that are being shown abroad, where film screening is more lax.
The financial support, however, should come as early as the pre-production stage of the filmmaking, said Mendoza, named Best Director at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in 2009.
"Other countries are supporting filmmakers. They support the script, the screening, and funds for the film. Support could be in different stages, and can even start with script-development support," he said.
"Sa production stage kailangan ng pera, pati sa post-production stage. The government could give support in either of these stages as they do in other countries," Mendoza added.
Mendoza said that a government body should look into scripts that show potential and then choose the good ones for funding instead of waiting until the movies are recognized abroad.
"What I mean with support is genuine support--meaning if they see a film that's genuinely good, they should support not waiting for the box-office pay-back," he added.
The ones who should screen the entries should come from the indie industry too, said Mendoza. Since the indie industry is small, these experts know what type of stories would sell outside the country and would be appreciated by mainstream movie-goers.
"There are lesser known filmmakers that are good and we should support these filmmakers kasi sila ang magtutuloy ng pelikula at awareness sa ibang bansa," he said.
Aside from financial funding, the government could also support the indie film industry through film screenings. Currently, Robinson's Galleria Indie Sine is the only mall that shows independent film for the masses.
To close the gap between mainstream audience and independent movies, Mendoza said art films should be shown in local festivals as moviehouses are limited.
Mendoza also suggested a separate category for independent movies in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) so indie films can be shown in major cinemas across the capital.
"Ang importante is the venue... na hindi nila tatanggalin ang pelikula. Ang importante is awareness. We have it but [just] a little bit. The participation, watching the film, ay wala pa," he explained.
He also said that the term "independent film" could be changed to "alternative film" to lessen the gap as "indie film" connotes movies that are unreachable by the common movie-goer.
"'Alternative cinema' mas bagay kesa 'independent.' Mas bagay para hindi malayo 'yung gap," he said.
The government should also create an establishment where movie censorship is not implemented. These special venues could show indie films irregardless of the rating and movie-goers are aware that the films are not rated by government rating bodies.
"There should be a cinematheque, a venue for these kinds of films without any restraint," he said.
What further aggravates the very limited viewers of independent movies in the country is piracy, shared Mendoza. With pirated copies amounting to as low as P50 per DVD, piracy has been killing the barely thriving indie industry.
"It's a major problem. Kahit sa United States, Europe, hindi nawawala ang piracy. Pero no matter what, we just have to keep on trying," he said.
"The independent circuit is too small; ang apektado talaga 'yung mainstream. Kami naman, maliit na 'yung pelikula, hindi na nga napapanood, napi-pirate pa. Ang hirap. It's a global problem."
But even though it is a worldwide problem, Mendoza reiterated that they will continue to fight against it and urged the government to exercise strong political will in curbing the proliferation of these materials. -- With ANC