Brillante’s Serbis competes in Cannes
FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo
Thursday April 24, 2008
BREAKING NEWS: Director Brillante “Dante” Mendoza’s next film, Serbis, has been officially invited to the official competition section of the 61st Cannes Film Festival from May 14 to 25.
>This piece of good news was relayed at around 1:30 yesterday morning by Christian Jeune, director of Cannes’ Film Department, to Dante and producer Ferdinand Lapuz who just came from a preview of the rough copy of the film with executives of a major film distributor who flew in from Hong Kong.
The official announcement was made during a press conference in Cannes yesterday.
It’s Dante’s second film to be shown in Cannes. Last year, his film Foster Child (produced by Seiko Films) was shown in the Director’s Fortnight, the same category where several other Filipino films have been shown, including Lino Brocka’s Insiang and Bona in 1978 and 1981 respectively, Mike de Leon’s Kisapmata and Batch ’81, and Mario O’Hara’s Babae sa Breakwater in 2004. Brocka’s Orapronobis was shown out of competition in 1989.
But it’s only the third time for the Philippines to compete in Cannes. The first time was in 1980 with Brocka’s Jaguar and then in 1984 with Kapit sa Patalim, also by Brocka.
Dante is ecstatic.
“I never expected it,” he told Funfare. “I would have been very happy even if Serbis was accepted only for Un Certain Regard (Director’s Fortnight).”
According to producer Ferdy Lapuz, also Funfare’s Toronto-based “international correspondent” (here for a visit), “Each year, about 20 feature films are selected to be in Competition and in the running for the Palme d’Or. They make up the main part of the Official Selection which is screened at the Grand Theatre LumiËre.”
The screenplay of Serbis was written by multi-awarded Armand “Bing” Lao (who co-wrote the story with Boots Agbayani Pastor). It is produced by French producer Didier Costet for Swift Productions and Ferdy for Centerstage Productions.
“Serbis won a script-development funding in last year’s Asian Cinema Fund in Pusan and took part in the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum last March,” added Ferdy. “Although the research of the film started in 2005, the shooting started only last March 21 in Angeles City. The cast and crew of the film stayed in Angeles for nine straight days and additional shoots were done on April 5 and 6.”
Ferdy said that a rough cut of Serbis without music, sound and effects, was the one sent to Cannes for submission last April 9. “Costet submitted copies of the film to both Competition and Director’s Fortnight. Olivier Pere and Jeremy Segay, artistic director and selection committee member of the Fortnight respectively, have sent Dante their congratulatory messages. Segay wrote, “We are especially glad that history is repeating itself again, Quinzaine being the best step to go to Competition!'”
Serbis is about a family living in a rundown moviehouse in Angeles City. Gina Pareño plays the matriarch who owns the moviehouse, with her family as employees. Playing Gina’s children are Jaclyn Jose, Dan Alvaro and newcomer Roxanne Jordan, with Julio Diaz as Jaclyn’s husband, Kristofer King as the projectionist and Coco Martin as the painter. Mercedes Cabral plays Coco’s girlfriend and Bobby Jerome Go the son of Jaclyn and Julio.
Said Dante, “I am grateful to the cooperation and support of the entire cast and especially to Bing who wrote the script in only five days last December. And also, my topnotch crew led by cinematographer Odyssey Flores, cameraman Jeffrey dela Cruz, musical director Gian Gianan, production designers Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije, editor Claire Villareal and sound supervisor Raffy Magsaysay. I would also like to thank the staff of Optima Digital who did the post production of the entire film for only three weeks.”
Dante, Ferdy and Bing are planning to attend the Cannes Filmfest along with some of the Serbis actors. They need the support of the Film Development Council of the Philippines led by chairman Jacky Atienza, vice-chaired by Christine Dayrit and executive director Lali Suzara.
“Serbis will open in selected Metro Manila theaters on June 18,” said Ferdy. “Centerstage will handle local distribution while Equation, a division of Swift Productions, will distribute the film in France and French-speaking territories. A major film distributor will handle the film’s world sales.”