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Brillante’s TV opus

Brillante Mendoza presents the need to respect the TV viewers in Panata


By Rica Arevalo

  • SNEAK PEAK In Panata, the Moriones Festival is the backdrop of the political uprising during the Martial Law

  • TELLING A TALE Young Mario (Jao Elamparo) with parents Azon (Sue Prado) and Tasyo (Arnold Reyes) burn the family’s anti-Marcos propaganda to evade arrest

  • BEHIND THE SCENES Filmmaker Brillante Mendoza directs the filming of made for TV, Panata, which will air on May 27th over TV5

  • PANATA TEAM The cast and crew of Panata with Director Brillante Mendoza (6th from left)

    Last week, we were invited to the special preview of TV5’s Brillante Mendoza Presents Panata at the Director’s Club in Mega Fashion Hall of SM Megamall. Against the backdrop of the Moriones Festival in picturesque Marinduque, Panata is set during the Martial Law period.  Political activism and the call to arms were propagated against the dictatorship in this made-for-television series.

    In an exclusive interview with the Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Cannes winner Brillante Mendoza shares, “It’s the metaphor, pagtatakip ng mukha, may galit yung maskara, nilagay namin sya sa era na yon (It’s the metaphor, the covering of the face, there is anger on the Morion mask.  We put it in the Martial Law era).  It’s more of an artistic and highly creative expression of the era.”

    What does he believes in?  He muses, “I believe in the existence of God.  Ako lumaki ako bilang Katoliko.  Maaring hindi ako practicing Catholic, pero I’m a very spiritual person (I grew up as a Catholic.  I might not be a practicing Catholic but I’m a very spiritual person).

    The Moriones Festival commemorates the life of Saint Longinus, the half-blind soldier from Rome who speared the crucified body of Jesus.  Longinus is thought to have regained his sight when Jesus’ blood hit his eye, restoring his vision.

    In Panata, Mario (Kristofer King) follows his father’s (Arnold Reyes) footsteps to become a Morion mask-maker and an underground activist.  The unjust disappearance of his father prompts him and his mother, Azon (Sue Prado) to devote their time doing Catholic rituals at the annual Moriones celebration.  In the end, painful questions were answered in the mass grave discovered by the grieving families.

    Written by Kat Marasigan, Mendoza continues to highlight the “found story” concept created by his mentor, Armando Lao.  It is a school of film writing whose objective is to get a real-life account and turn it into a film narrative utilizing a “found story.”

    He explains,  “The script was based on a research.  We choose a municipality and based on the place, we choose a reference then develop the story.  Each municipality has festivities so we connected it.”

    With limited shooting days and a small budget compared to making feature-length films, Mendoza didn’t treat this project as “just a TV show.”

    “At the end of the day, a film is a film regardless anong medium siya papalabas (At the end of the day, a film is a film regardless of its medium and screening format).  I was given full creative freedom by TV5 to do what I want and I’m happy,” says the first Asian to win the Best Director Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his film, Kinatay.

    He was all-praised for his actors, Kristofer King, Felix Roco, Arnold Reyes, Sue Prado, Lou Veloso, and Edwin Nombre.  “Pinapabayaan ko lang sila.  (I let them be).  You cannot teach them how to act but you can teach them the character, the attitude how they should treat their craft.  Yung pag arte, sa kanila na yon, sila yung artista (Acting, it’s their call as actors).  Ako lang ang mag guide sa kanila (I just guide them).

    At the ongoing Cannes International Film Festival, Mendoza is going to be the “Parrain” or mentor at the La Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde.  He shares, “These are young filmmakers who already have done some films. They are developing their project and this was sponsored by Cannes. I’m looking forward to learn from them also.  Filmmakers ito na galing sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo so maganda rin makipag collaborate sa kanila (The filmmakers came from different parts of the world and it would be good to collaborate with them).  Also to share a bit of our culture and our stories, and how do we make films dito sa Pilipinas.  It’s like bringing to them our kind of stories, our culture, and Pilipinas as a whole.”

    Mendoza’s signature handheld camera “look” and truthful depiction are the series’ strong points.

    Why did Mendoza come up with this made-for-TV series?  “This is not the usual show we see on TV.  We have a high respect for the viewers that’s why we are giving them this show.  Ngayon, kahit papaano, meron silang mga kwento base sa totoong buhay (Now, they will have a chance to see stories based on real life).”

    The Panata episode will air on May 27, 10:30 p.m. on TV5.  Upcoming episodes include Anak (June 24), Kadaguan (July 29), and Habilin (Aug. 26).

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