Being at the helm of one of the most successful independent film festivals in the country Sinag Maynila, director Brillante Mendoza admitted he did not expect the event to grow so much in just three years. “Ang bilis nga actually. We started this project three years ago. Four months lang ang preparation nami. It’s a small festival. It’s privately funded. We didn’t realize na ganun pala yung naging impact niya, yung mga films namin naging award-winning, na-distribute, nabenta sa ibang bansa. Yung two years namin na festival parang nag dami ng nangyari. So we’re so excited especially sa line-up ngayon kasi parang a mix of new and old filmmakers so parang napaka-diverse din. It just feels so overwhelming and at the same time ang saya ng pakiramdam na ang daming natutulungan, ang daming nabibigyan na pagkakataon na filmmakers ng festival na ito,” he shared during the Sinag Maynila opening night held last March 9 at the SM Aura Premier in Taguig.
With five full-length films participating this year, Brillante said their plans for the entries don’t stop with just the local festival. “Parang after this may nangyayari sa mga pelikula. They go to festivals abroad, nabebenta sila sa ibang distribution, napapalabas sila sa ibang bansa. In fact by next week nga may darating dito na mga Malaysian na kausap ko na mag-i-introduce sila ng ibang platform sa alternative cinema kasi nangyari na yun sa Malaysia so they want to do that here,” he shared.
The recent Best Director winner at the 2017 Malaysian Global Awards said he and Wilson Tieng (of Solar Entertainment) never envisioned Sinag Maynila to focus on box office returns. “I don’t see it na, ‘Kailangan mabawi ko yung perang ininvest dito.’ Kumabag hindi kami nag-iisip pa ng ganun kaya nga I salute Mr. Wilson Tieng na there’s somebody like him na talagang will go out of his way na talagang tumulong sa industry. And not all TV executives are like him. Kung makikita niyo wala kaming sponsor. So with that alone we should somebody like Mr. Tieng na talagang walang halong pretension, ka-plastikan kundi buong buo yung pagtulong niya,” he added.
Even while doing multiple projects at the same time, Brillante said he does not consider himself spreading himself too thin. “It’s just a matter siguro of time management kasi especially if you love and enjoy what you’re doing. Actually this is not work. This is fun. I look forward every time na mag-shu-shoot ako. At the end of the day you’re physically exhausted but you are spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. So pagod man yung katawan, busog na busog naman yung kaluuwa mo. Masarap ang pakiramdam,” he said.
If there’s one goal Brillante has, he admitted it is not for personal ambitions. “Wala akong gustong patunayan. Ang ultimate goal ko lang makapag-create tayo ng core audience for alternative cinema at tingnan ang pelikula as a serious form of art. Na huwag lang natin siya tingnan as a form of entertainment kundi it’s an art at seryosohin natin siya dahil it’s really an art. At the moment wala pa tayong ganung klaseng audience so itong Sinag Maynila yung parang slowly ginagawa namin nag-kri-create kami ng core audience. Puwede naman eh, nangyari sa ibang bansa. Nangyari na nga sa Malaysia at sa Singapore. Ang dami nga nilang restrictions dun dito malayang-malaya tayo. This is besides the fact na meron tayong censorship pero compared sa kanila mas nakakapag-create tayo,” he said.
Sinag Maynila is a partnership between Solar Entertainment, Centerstage Productions, and SM. The Sinag Maynila Film Festival will run until March 14, Tuesday at participating SM Cinemas, Glorietta, and Gateway mall. For the full list of entries and screening schedule, please visit .