No one certainly saw this coming, certainly not after the bloodbath Mendoza’s gotten from critics:
Brillante Mendoza of the Philippines on Sunday picked up the best director prize at the Cannes film festival for his dark movie “Kinatay”.
“Kinatay” (meaning “massacre”) notably features corrupt cops hacking a prostitute to pieces with blunt kitchen knives.
Mendoza, at Cannes for the second year running, again split the critics, drawing both hisses and applause for “Kinatay”.
Previously, Mendoza’s film has received a slew of criticism from some prominent critics, notably Sun Times’ Roger Ebert, who said “it is Mendoza’s conceit that his idea will make a statement, or evoke a sensation, or demonstrate something—only if he makes the rest of the film as unpleasant to the eyes, ears, the mind and the story itself as possible.” (Full review here) Maggie Lee of of the Hollywood Reporter added the film was a “prurient and excruciating viewing experience that makes the audience partners in crimes of inhumanity.” On the flip side, Mike Goodridge of Screen International found “Kinatay” a “nerve-shredding exploration of crime, which is both repellent and grimly compelling.”
Apart from Mendoza’s “Kinatay,” two other Filipino films were in the Official Selection: “Independencia” by Raya Martin and “Manila,” by Adolfo Alix Jr and Raya Martin, prompting Bangkok Post’s Kong Rithdee to write “Filipino directors are on a roll.” He adds:
The strong presence of the Filipinos in Cannes signifies a few things: This is a country mired in economic and political troubles, a country whose film industry enjoys little government support and has no official booth in Cannes (Thailand has two, from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce). These Manila boys blaze their paths through persistence and intellect – their aesthetics are steeped in the tropical heat and chaotic past of their homeland, and it’s not presumptuous to say that they will be around in the art film scene for a long while.