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Director Brillante Mendoza on the state of the local film industry: ‘We pull each other down’

‘Palitan’ director Brillante Mendoza reacts to the Film Academy of the Philippines’s decision not to submit any entry for the Oscar Awards next year.

BY
Rhea Manila Santos

Twitter: @allaboutmanila

FRESH SCOOPS

12/20/2021 08:44 AM
Director Brillante Mendoza on the state of the local film industry: ‘We pull each other down’

With the recent news that the Film Academy of the Philippines did not submit any entry to the International Feature Film category for the Academy Awards next year, groups in the local entertainment industry like the Directors Guild of the Philippines (DGPI) have publicly expressed their disappointment at the decision of the FAP. During the mediacon for his Vivamax film Palitan, director Brillante Mendoza shared his thoughts on the issue. 

“Of course as a filmmaker and as somebody na pinadala na yung film ko sa Academy as a director and as a producer, of course I’m sad. Kasi part ako ng industry di ba? Kasi yun lang yung chance natin na maipadala ang pelikula natin sa Academy so it’s important. But more than that, I’d like to add, of course pagkukulang yun ng Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP). I don’t know the reason why, I haven’t heard kung ano yung statement nila why they did not submit the film. I’m sure they have their own reasons. Huwag tayo masyado mag-assume na hindi lang sila basta nagpadala,” he said.

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The Palitan director also explained that contrary to what the public may think, submitting an entry to the Academy Awards is not a simple process.

“The real question here, and I’d like to share this with our audience and the people sa industry, na hindi lang ang pagpapadala ng pelikula sa Academy ang problema. So nasa ilang dekada ang Academy ngayon, 100 years na? And no Philippine film has ever made it sa 50. Wala. Sending films to the Academy is not just a matter of choosing the films that we like locally. Kahit na blockbuster pa yang pelikulang pinili ng mga taong pumipili or napanalunan niya lahat ng mga awards ng award-giving bodies dito sa Pilipinas, for as long as the film is not global in terms of stories, hindi yan mapapansin ng Academy. And napaka-complicated na proseso niyan. Hindi lang yan basta nag-submit at napili. 

“Ang pagpili ng film is the simplest job na unang una ginagawa dito sa Pilipinas. Pag napili ka, that’s where the work starts. Kasi pag napili ka, you’re on your own. Ibig sabihin kung producer ka bahala ka sa buhay mo. Kung director ka bahala ka sa buhay mo. And it’s not as simple as that. There’s something like you have to reach 10,000 Academy members all over the world, not just from the United States. And you need a big company to do that for you. And you need money to do that. In other words, kailangan mo ng isang campaign agency to do that for you. And you need money for that. And if you are an ordinary producer like me, na tapos ang pelikula na hindi ko naman pinagkakitaan and I need to spend another five or ten million to promote the film, I’m not going to do that. And nobody is going to do that for you. So who should be doing that?” he explained. 

The Palitan director also explained that contrary to what the public may think, submitting an entry to the Academy Awards is not a simple process.

“The real question here, and I’d like to share this with our audience and the people sa industry, na hindi lang ang pagpapadala ng pelikula sa Academy ang problema. So nasa ilang dekada ang Academy ngayon, 100 years na? And no Philippine film has ever made it sa 50. Wala. Sending films to the Academy is not just a matter of choosing the films that we like locally. Kahit na blockbuster pa yang pelikulang pinili ng mga taong pumipili or napanalunan niya lahat ng mga awards ng award-giving bodies dito sa Pilipinas, for as long as the film is not global in terms of stories, hindi yan mapapansin ng Academy. And napaka-complicated na proseso niyan. Hindi lang yan basta nag-submit at napili. 

“Ang pagpili ng film is the simplest job na unang una ginagawa dito sa Pilipinas. Pag napili ka, that’s where the work starts. Kasi pag napili ka, you’re on your own. Ibig sabihin kung producer ka bahala ka sa buhay mo. Kung director ka bahala ka sa buhay mo. And it’s not as simple as that. There’s something like you have to reach 10,000 Academy members all over the world, not just from the United States. And you need a big company to do that for you. And you need money to do that. In other words, kailangan mo ng isang campaign agency to do that for you. And you need money for that. And if you are an ordinary producer like me, na tapos ang pelikula na hindi ko naman pinagkakitaan and I need to spend another five or ten million to promote the film, I’m not going to do that. And nobody is going to do that for you. So who should be doing that?” he explained. 

Kylie Verzosa to star in Brillante Mendoza film

The multi-awarded director also took the opportunity to give a statement to everyone in the industry to reflect on what needs to be done in order to elevate the state of the Philippine films.

“Magkaisa muna tayo. Ayusin muna natin ang sarili natin because from the industry itself something is wrong. Nagbabangayan. Because of our crab mentality we pull each other down. The usual Filipino way and mentality. I think we have to heal ourselves first. Regardless of our political affiliations and colors, whatever it is, from the industry itself, ayusin muna natin ang sarili natin. Pag naayos na natin ang sarili natin then we reach out to the right people.

“Sino itong mga stakeholders na ‘to? Siguro ang gobyerno. Kung as one lumapit tayo sa gobyerno, then probably the government will listen to us. And then let the government help the industry. And then that’s the only time that we can seriously think about sending the right film to the Academy. Then probably maririnig tayo, makikita tayo at mapapanuod tayo. But at the rate that we’re going right now, I don’t think that in the next year or the next decade we will be heard by the Academy,” he said.