December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Film’s Brillante Mendoza turns to the small screen

RENOWNED Filipino director Brillante Ma Mendoza has brought his distinctive filmmaking style to the small screen via 12 made-for-TV films which are being shown on TV5.

“We’re always very encouraged about everything Brillante Mendoza creates,” Vincent “Chot” Reyes, president and CEO of TV5, told the media during a press conference on Tuesday.

The 12-film series, Brillante Ma Mendoza Presents, is said to be a testament to the network’s new direction.

“[The series] is really very different -- admittedly not mainstream -- but it says a lot regarding the network’s direction,” said Mr. Reyes, adding that the network is positioning itself as an alternative free TV channel as evidenced by its new slogan, “Choose Courage.”

The TV films are shown once a month on a Saturday, at 9:30 p.m. Two episodes have already been aired.

Each film relates to a festival or celebration.

The first film, Chinoy, which aired in January, was made in time for Chinese New Year, and told the story of a Fil-Chinese Wushu athlete who has a passion for traditional Lion dancing.

The next film, which aired in March, was called Everlasting -- the story of two lesbian lovers who reevaluate their nine-year-long relationship during Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival, held annually in February.

This month, Mr. Mendoza’s third installment is centered on graduation. In the aptly titled Ang Pagtatapos, a female student in the Philippine School for the Arts in Mt. Makiling, Laguna, is struggling to complete her thesis -- a Pangalay dance (the “fingernail dance” of the Tausug in Sulu) based on the legend of Mt. Makiling’s guardian spirit Mariang Makiling -- while dealing with family problems caused by her mother’s departure. The episode will air this Saturday.

Mr. Mendoza, who won the 2009 Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Kinatay, is known for his neo-realistic style which is in full display in Ang Pagtatapos, which, combined with elements of dark fantasy, results in a disturbing, yet very real portrayal of depression.

The director said that in future films he will continue experimenting with different genres including horror and action.

Other films already lined up for screening are Panata on May 27, Anak on June 24, Kadaugan on July 29, and Habilin on Aug. 26.

Aside from the monthly showings, Mr. Reyes hinted that the series will eventually find its way to digital channels, such as video-on-demand, though the two previous episodes are currently available on the TV5 Web site.

Though he declined to say what his budget was to produce the series, he did say it cost a lot of money.

Aside from the film series, Mr. Mendoza is also working on a 13-episode mini-series featuring Derek Ramsey, although no details have yet been released.

TV5 and BusinessWorld both belong to MediaQuest Holdings, the media conglomerate of the Beneficial Trust Fund of PLDT, through its fully owned subsidiary, Hastings Holdings, Inc. -- Zsarlene B. Chua