Philippines Makes Strong Comeback to Tokyo Film Fest

TOKYO – A year after acclaimed filmmaker Brillante Mendoza made history as the first Filipino jury president of the Main Competition section of Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), he is back again in the A-list festival for the screening of his latest masterpiece, “Mindanao,” starring Judy Ann Santos in the World Focus section.

“Masaya! Kasi parang less ang trabaho. Iba ang trabaho kasi kapag jury ka, kailangan very critical ka. Iba rin kapag filmmaker ka, nandoon ka lang sa pelikula mo, yun lang ang concern mo,” he told Filipino-Japanese Journal about his return to TIFF.

“Kapag filmmaker ka, you want to see the reaction of the audience. Alam mo yung napapanood nila yung pelikula mo tapos nakikita nila yung difference ng mga films mo, talagang alam nila yung filmography mo, yun talaga ang fulfilling. You don't get to feel this kapag jury ka kasi palagi ka nakahiwalay, you just critic the film and be critical about the movie that you are watching. Ngayon it's not about that eh, parang trabaho kasi yun, ngayon parang ramdam mo yung filmmaker ka,” Mendoza went on.

He added: “Sarap ng pakiramdam, masarap yung mga Q&A, alam mong nato-touch ang mga tao, alam mong hindi fake yung kanilang nararamdaman kasi right there and then yun ang sinasabi nila sa'yo.

Aside from Mendoza’s film, this year’s TIFF includes seven other Filipino movies: Paul Soriano’s suspense drama “Mañanita” starring Bela Padilla, which had its world premiere in the Main Competition section on Tuesday night; the horror suspense film “Motel Acacia” directed by Bradley Liew starring JC Santos, which will have its debut tomorrow in the Asian Future category; Erik Matti’s “Food Lore - Island of Dreams” in the World Focus section; and Lav Diaz’s “The Halt (Ang Hupa),” Matti’s “The Entity (Kuwaresma),” Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo’s “Untrue” and Antoinette Jadaone’s “Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay” in the Crosscut Asia section.

Most of them took part in the red carpet event last Monday night at a packed Roppongi Hills Arena.

Paul Soriano and Bela Padilla (Mañanita)
Mara Lopez and Pinky Amador (The Halt)
L-R: Ben Padero, JC Santos, Bradley Liew and Bianca Balbuena (Motel Acacia)
L-R: Dan Villegas, Antoinette Jadaone and Carlo Cannu (Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay)
L-R: Mitos Yniguez, Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo and Boy Yniguez (Untrue)
Charlie Dy and Kent Gonzales (The Entity)

The 32nd edition of TIFF runs until Nov. 5 at Roppongi Hills, EX Theater Roppongi, and other venues in Tokyo. - Words by Florenda Corpuz, Photographs by Din Eugenio