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He has given the Philippines many honors for his cutting edge movies. This time, he’s returning to the Cannes fest with a TV series.

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Brillante Mendoza is synonymous to award-winning films that reflect the unfiltered reality of Philippine society, among them “Masahista,” “Kinatay,” “Taklub,” “Thy Womb,” and “Ma’Rosa.”

Brillante Mendoza (right) with Chot Reyes (mb.com.ph)

Brillante Mendoza (right) with Chot Reyes

Now, the director is bringing his expertise to TV. In a recent interview, the director said his new TV series “Amo” is set for exhibition in a section of the Cannes Film Festival. The category is not a competition and this is the first time a Philippine TV program will take part in it.

Starring Derek Ramsay, “Amo” is a 13-episode mini-series produced by TV5 that tells the story of the illegal drug trade in the country.

While some speculate that given the topic, the series might be divisive if not political, Mendoza maintained his work is merely “realistic.”

“Dito sa ‘Amo,’ pinapakita lang ’yung mga kalakaran na nangyari,” he said.

He believes Cannes is the perfect venue to showcase the series as “Lahat ng distributor, lahat ng producers, lahat ng stakeholders, nanduon sa Cannes, so mas maraming audience ang may chance na makapanuod nito.”

Spot the difference

Mendoza cited several differences between directing a TV series and a film.

“’Pag film talaga kasi, ang director ’yung nasa spotlight while on a TV series, mas more of the distributor, mas more on the business side.

“Tsaka ’pag film kasi alam mo ’yung market mo eh, may certain bracket ’yan. Ang TV wider, mas malaki ang scope.”

A scene from ‘Amo’ (Screengrab from YouTube) /mb.com.ph

A scene from ‘Amo’ (Screengrab from YouTube)

Then there’s the matter of censorship.

“You have to strictly abide by the rules of TV dahil malawak ang audience, but for ‘Amo,’ we have a director’s cut,” he maintained.

Needless to say, directing a TV series is a great experience for Mendoza.

“Marami ako natutunan. Sa teamwork, sa mga limitations, kasi it’s a different medium. So, all in all, (kailangan ng) disiplina talaga.”

It is what it is

Despite being known as an indie filmmaker, Mendoza doesn’t see anything wrong with mainstream films in that “a film is always a film.”

“But the thing is, ina-identify natin kung sino ba tayo, nandito ba tayo sa alternatibo o nandito sa mainstream,” he explained. “Kasi kapag mainstream, we cater to a different audience, while ’pag indie ay alam mo kung sino ang target (audience) mo.”

Does he plan to go mainstream soon or even anytime later?

“No,” he shot back. “Ako kasi, alam ko ’yung gusto ko talaga and that is being an indie filmmaker.”

Mendoza would rather focus on content rather than commercial viability, thank you.

'Tsinoy' (mb.com.ph)

‘Tsinoy’

“’Yun ang kailangan ng tao, mas kailangan nila mapanuod ’yung storya,” he explained. “Ke sikat ang artista na gaganap o hindi, ang mahalaga may laman at makabuluhan ang kwento.”

Home of indies

As part of his commitment to the indie film industry, Mendoza has been collaborating with TV5 on “Brillante Mendoza Presents,” a series of made-for-TV original movies that reflects happenings in different parts of the country.

The first film in the series titled “Tsinoy” came out last January, with the theme centering on the Chinese New Year Festival. Coinciding with the Panagbenga Festival in February is “Everlasting,” while “Pagtatapos” premieres tonight at 9:30.

“Pagtatapos” is about a folk dance student in Los Baños and how she goes through life even as she faces personal struggles concerning her studies, her family and her recurring visions of Maria Makiling.

Mendoza said they did thorough research for all of the series.

“Ang commitment namin, parang full-length (movie ang ginagawa namin),” he noted. “Ang mga kwento nito, referential as in nagpupunta talaga kami sa lugar, research hanggang sa makagawa ng kwento.”

'Everlasting' (Screengrab from Youtube) /mb.com.ph

‘Everlasting’

According to Mendoza, TV5 has given him full freedom on what he wants to do with the show. He is, of course, thankful to the network.

“It’s very rewarding,” he said.

They are not opting for commercialization.

“Of course, we want ratings. Sinong ayaw ng sponsor, ’di ba? Kasi at the end of the day, business is business. But TV5 took the challenge na hindi kailangang i-commercialize at i-compromise ang show,” the director explained.

Meanwhile, TV5 President Vincent “Chot” Reyes said in the same interview that the network hopes to become the home of indie films.

“The reason kinuha namin siya (Mendoza) is for the specific positioning na gusto namin gawin sa network. I believe if we do our work well and the audience will support it, I think the awards will follow,” he said.

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