Cover Photo: Troy Espiritu

Brillante Mendoza has been a luminary in the local filmmaking scene. Here's why he thinks there's much potential left to be explored within his own industry

Brillante Mendoza is an independent filmmaker with multiple awards under his belt. Though he's been recognised internationally—by the Cannes Film Festival and by the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, no less—Mendoza has always been a huge advocate for the local filmmaking scene. His projects, multi-awarded as they are, have covered a broad spectrum of Filipino nuances, and have broached subjects that none but a Filipino would understand enough to portray. "With its seven thousand islands, the Philippines is unique for having a very colourful culture," Mendoza notes. "[We have] different faiths, tribes and traditions which we must learn from and explore— there is unlimited potential when we imagine the films we can create and share that [are able to] tell the stories of Filipinos." 

Our country, rich in most every aspect, has been mostly sheltered away from the international eye. However, this doesn't detract from the depth of our storytelling. Now, Mendoza advises us that "we must be brave about our ideas" and promote our identity. "The stories should not just be about characters, but they must have a deeper meaning, and represent a bigger subject." 

However, there's the controversial question of support. A mere individual can bring attention to our country, but active support is what puts the Filipino brand on the international map. "There should be active support both from the whole industry and the government because good films—and the industry itself—when they succeed, aside from bringing honour to the entire nation, they represent and archive Filipino narratives, talent, our way of life," Mendoza explains. "That’s what we work hard for: that the Philippines be respected and recognised as a strong and relevant contributor in the global filmmaking arena."

Though Medoza's mission is one to benefit the entire nation, the filmmaker shares that his raison d'etre is quite personal (as it is with most artists). "The first thing [budding artists] should ask themselves is—why am I doing this? Think hard, and when they find their answer—an honest one—they should be able to stand firm on their decision, their voice." And though the celebrated filmmaker doesn't reveal the answer to the very question he poses, it's fairly safe to say (through his body of work), that it's likely one to make all Filipinos proud. 

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