Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Brillante Mendoza weaves brilliance in the award-winning MMFF entry ‘Mindanao’

The cast and crew of Mindanao led by award-winning director Brillante Mendoza and one of the best actresses of her generation Judy Ann Santos.  

Whenever people talk about director Brillante Mendoza, his work would often be described as thought-provoking, moving, socially relevant and award-winning.

Who can forget Mendoza’s first film Masahista in 2005 where a newcomer Coco Martin portrays the role of young man offering massage service to gay men and touches the harsh realities of life?  Four years later, Coco was again tapped by Mendoza for the movie Kinatay where the later won the best director plum at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, the first Filipino to achieve such milestone.

Mendoza has also worked with the Superstar of Philippine Cinema Nora Aunor in the movie Thy Womb (2012), his first movie set in Mindanao, and Cannes Best Actress Jacklyn Jose for the 2016 drama Ma’ Rosa.

In this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Mendoza is bringing his winning ways with the much-acclaimed movie Mindanao to compete in the box-office with other entries:  The Mall, The Merrier (Vice Ganda/ Anne Curtis); Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity (Vic Sotto/ Maine Mendoza); Sunod (Carmina Villarroel/ Mylene Dizon); 3POL Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon! (Coco Martin/ Ai-Ai Delas Alas/ Jennylyn Mercado); Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Aga Muhlach/ Xia Vigor); Write About Love (Roco Nacino/ Miles Ocampo); and Culion (Iza Calzado/ Jasmine Curtis-Smith / Meryll Soriano).

Mindanao does not lack star power with Judy Ann Santos leading the cast of this movie graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board. Juday won the Best Actress award for this film at the 41st Cairo International Film Festival while the full-length feature was also recognized as Best in Artistic Contribution.

If you need a good cry this holiday season, Mindanao is a certified tearjerker. Make sure that along with your popcorn, you have a lot of tissues on hand because things can be messy when you started to sob with Juday. Another good news is that you can now tag along your kids watching a Brillante Mendoza film because the multi award-winning director used animation in his feature for the first time to incorporate the epic tale of Rajah and Sulayman in this action drama film about Saima (Judy Ann) who spent the final days of her daughter Aisa (Yuna Tangog)who was battling cancer at the House of Hope in Davao City while his husband Malang (Allen Dizon) dodges bullets as a medic in the military operation in Maguindanao.

My personal takeaways after watching Mindanao is that, regardless of religion, beliefs and social status, we are all equal when we see death waving at us. Whether its cancer or a loaded gun that is slowly killing you, it doesn’t even matter because the bottom line is if you don’t survive, you’re dead. Plus, it was quite an experience even just through this film to witness how our Muslim brothers and sisters pay their last respect to their loved ones who passed away.

But the movie is not really that gloomy because Mendoza was able to weave scenes of hopes and colourful moments to balance the heavy premise of the story. Watch out for the heart-warming grocery store scene and you might whisper, “Faith in humanity restored.”

Indeed, the brilliance of Mendoza is flying and spewing fire like Ginto and Pula from the popular folktale from the South, in this yet another eye-opener and one of the front-runners for the Best Picture at the MMFF award ceremonies.