Leading Filipino moviemaker Brillante Mendoza prefers stories over style

It might be the age of computer-generated imagery but top director Brillante Mendoza would rather stick to the basics than dazzle an audience with magical visual imagery.

Mendoza is known as one of the foremost directors of Philippine alternative cinema and he insists he is sticking to his roots.

“It’s about being truthful and honest with the stories that I tell,” Mendoza, whose movie ‘Sinapupunan’ (Thy Womb) was screened at the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), told 7DAYS.

“I don’t see my identity as a Filipino in those (CGI movies). “Coming from a developing country, it is ironic to do a movie that doesn’t represent your identity.

“Even if I got an offer from Hollywood, I would not be comfortable doing these films. I’m not exposed to this kind of cinema.

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“I’m more of a realist and I like to tell stories close to my heart.” Mendoza has directed 16 full-length movies since 2005. His films explore the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary situations with a commentary on Philippine social realities.

He was the first Filipino to win the highly-coveted Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, for his film ‘Kinatay’ (Butchered).

His latest offering ‘Sinapupunan’ opens with a couple paddling their boat. The camera work is supposed to resemble being inside a mother’s womb. Mendoza also shows a woman giving birth in all its vivid detail. He asked the protagonist, Nora Aunor, to learn how to deliver a baby and he had a number of pregnant women ready to give birth during filming.

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“Everything was spontaneous and, of course, we did not stop the baby from coming out (during the filming),” he said, adding: “The idea is not to shock but to show how it really happens. We wanted to show what makes it real life.”

Mendoza concluded: “At the end of the day, what matters most as a film maker is your intent and dedication to what you are doing.

“It is about telling the truth and talking about honesty which transcend your race and nationality.”

DIFF concludes today.

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