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Pinoy wins ‘best director’ title at Cannes

brillantemendozabwMANILA – In a stunning dark horse triumph, Filipino filmmaker Brillante “Dante” Mendoza won the Best Director prize for “Kinatay” at the 62nd Cannes Film Festivalon Sunday, May 24.

“I feel like I’m floating,” Mendoza told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an exclusive phone interview from France, minutes after his win in the world’s most prestigious film festival. “I’m so happy.”

Mendoza bested past Oscar and Cannes winners, like Taiwan’s Ang Lee, Spain’s Pedro Almodovar, New Zealand’s Jane Campion, Denmark’s Lars von Trier, and the United States’ Quentin Tarantino.

As the first Filipino to win the Best Director prize in Cannes, he joins the list of revered filmmakers who have won the coveted prize, including Martin Scorsese, Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, Luis Buñuel, Robert Bresson, Costa Gavras, Bernard Tavernier, Werner Herzog, Robert Altman, Joel Coen and Gus Van Sant.
Calling from backstage at the Palais’ Salle Lumiere, where the awards ceremony was held, Mendoza told the Inquirer that winning the Best Director prize was “vindication” after his film was pummeled by critics, just like “Serbis,” his Main Competition entry in Cannes last year.

[ad#kinataytheatricalrel120x150]“Kinatay ,” which means massacre, is a gritty look at the slow butchering of a prostitute with blunt kitchen knives.

“Serbis,”is about a family who lives in and operates a run-down porn shop with long close-ups of festering boils and overflowing toilets.

Both films background the Philippines’ poor, with “Kinatay” chronicling a day in the life of a young police officer that begins with his wedding and closes with his involvement in the rape, murder and hacking into pieces of a prostitute.

“This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real,” Mendoza said.”He said he felt validated standing by his aesthetic choices. “It feels good. The sting of all the negative reviews is lessened because, in the end, the director’s message was heard.”

Mendoza’s Cannes triumph is all the more significant because it came only two days after National Artist Lino Brockas 18th death anniversary on May 22.

Filipino filmmaker Mel Chionglo told the Inquirer: It’s a first for Philippine movies. Dante has triumphed where even the great Lino Brocka had failed to win a prize. Now, Dante has really flung open the doors for Filipino films internationally.”

[ad#moviesatamazon300x250]Chionglo added that his colleagues in the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc., of which Mendoza is also a board member, are “mighty proud of this historic triumph.

Raymond Red’s film “Anino” won the Palme D’Or for Short Film in 2000, but it’s the first time for the country to win in the Cannes’ Main Competition. “It’s the first major award from one of the top three festivals in the world: Cannes, Berlin and Venice,” Chionglo said.day.

Brocka, the first Filipino to be exhibited and to compete in Cannes in the 1970s, never won in the festival, but is largely credited for paving the way for today’s generation of Filipino filmmakers, he related.

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