Colombia fetes Brillante Ma. Mendoza | Inquirer Entertainment

Colombia fetes Brillante Ma. Mendoza

/ 12:28 AM March 11, 2016



It was a serendipitous reunion of sorts.

Filipino filmmaker Brillante Ma. Mendoza bumped into Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon in Colombia, of all places—where the two world-renowned artists received honorary awards at the 56th Cartagena International Film Festival, which ran from March 2 to 7.


At the “palatial and historic” Casa Pestagua hotel, Mendoza reminded Sarandon that it was actually their second encounter.


Mendoza recalled: “She was the presenter when I won my first big award, the Golden Leopard (video), at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland, for ‘Masahista’ in 2005.”

The director vividly remembered the dress that the actress wore in Locarno more than a decade ago. “It was jade green, with spaghetti straps and a deep neckline. While I was freezing in my barong, she wasn’t bothered by the weather at all.”

Amazed by his total recall, Sarandon told the Filipino director: “What a small world! Now, the two of us are the honorees. I am glad you continued making films.”

She also expressed astonishment that Mendoza had made 20 short and full-length films since his directorial debut, “Masahista.”


“Susan was very warm. She didn’t change at all in the last 11 years. Still carefree and chatty, she talked about her advocacies,” he told the Inquirer in an e-mail interview.


The awarding ceremony on March 7 left Mendoza speechless. “I was delayed by 15 minutes. When I arrived on the red carpet, there were only a few people there,” he related.

Turned out everyone, including the paparazzi, was already in the theater. “When I entered the venue, the people stood up and clapped. I was so touched.”

Then, a clip of his films was shown and again there was a resounding ovation, he reminisced. “It was unexpected. I didn’t see Filipinos in the audience. But on my last day in Colombia, a few Filipinos asked to have a photo taken with me, even though they had no idea who I was.”

He had the same goose bump experience earlier when he conducted a master class on March 5.

“The hall was packed. The questions seemed endless,” he recounted. “The Colombians were curious about the Philippines. They asked about our similarities.”

His answer: “I said our cultures were the same. We are always late, too. They laughed. We have the same religion, of course. There were also many churches there. Another thing we share is our interest in beauty pageants. Again, they laughed loudly.”

His hosts took him all over the city, and he got to attend some screenings held in schools. “The screenings were free for the accredited students, so the venues were always full. They saw behind-the-scenes footage of my latest movie ‘Taklub.’ Some students couldn’t believe that we finished the film in 12 days.”

The young cineastes were just as keenly interested in our country, he said. “They wanted to know about my process on the set and the usual budget range in making an indie film.”

Someone asked about the improvisational skills of Filipino actors after he told the audience that he doesn’t usually provide the cast with a script.

Brillante met several Colombian filmmakers, too, including Ciro Guerra, whose latest work, “Embrace of the Serpent,” was nominated in the best foreign language film category of this year’s Oscars.

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“They were proud of this achievement because it was a first for their country,” said Mendoza.

TAGS: brillante ma. mendoza, Ciro Guerra, Indie Films, Susan Sarandon

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