Serbis competes in Cannes

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.

Brillante Ma. Mendoza-Serbis 4.JPG

“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.”


14 thoughts on “Serbis competes in Cannes

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  2. charlie says:

    Here’s the say of world critics on “Serbis”- 1 out of 4 was negative. IOne even said that Armando Lao could’ve been a bad influence because Mendoza performed better when he had partial credits for the script. Well, Lao was a remnant of the Brocka sqautter-prostitute gimmick scriptsa of the late Brocka, which Mendoza seems to be copying. Well, SErbis was said to be of no social value- what then was this film made for if it has no social value. In an interview the filmmakers said the Filipinos don’t want to watch these kinds of film because they don’t want to watch hard realities- what then was the movie made for? For the foreigners? Are the filmmakers using the misery of the Filipibnos to advance themselves in First World-art houses? Social relevance. my foot. The Philippine film imdustry needs intelligent scripts, not the usual squatter-prostitute types. Kumita na si Brocka doon

  3. charlie says:

    It’s good Raya Martin, Lav Diaz,etc. are not bent on copying Brocka. Mendoza should think original & not rely on the Brocka relics like Lao.

    Btw, they have what they call at Cannes the deadly triangle who are loved by world crtics- Alonzo-Serra-Martin- that’s Lisandro Alonzo of Argentina, Albert Serra of Spain & Raya Martin of the Philippines. Without PR gimmicks in the Philippines, Raya is becoming one of the more important directors in the world. Who are famous in the Philippines? Those who are unashamedly promoting themselves. Like Adolfo Alix- how many film festivals has invited him but it seems his every move is on the papers.
    Well, Mendoza should stop copying Brocka if he wants to be respected like Raya or Lav in the world.

  4. charlie says:

    more reviews on “Serbis”

    From Cinematical
    Gratuitous Yuckiness in ‘Serbis’ and Bad Euro-disco
    Posted May 19th 2008 10:32AM by Kim Voynar
    Filed under: Cannes, Festival Reports, Cinematical Indie

    The other night, James and I walked out of our first film at Cannes, Brilliante Mendoza’s Serbis. Actually, this is the first time I’ve ever walked out before the end of a film at a festival; generally, I feel it’s my job to watch films here, the good, the bad and the ugly, and so I sit through them, however wretched they may be. But not this time. It’s too bad, really, because Serbis is the first Filipino film to ever play in competition in Cannes and I was hoping to like it, but … ugh.

    The film opens with a scene of total gratuitous nudity — a young Filipino girl, just out of the shower, preening in front of a mirror and practicing saying “I love you” in what she thinks is a sexy way. And that scene would have been just fine like that, without the voyeuristic panning down to breasts and pubic hair. I’m not a prude by any stretch, I have no problem with nudity and sex in films if it serves an actual purpose, but watching that scene all I could think of was, well, there’s a shot that exists only to please the guys who have the hots for young, naked Asian girls. Which for me, just made it feel exploitive.

    The film is set in a family-run adult theater with a little cafe at the bottom that’s open to the street, and the ambient noise in the first 15 or so minutes of the film was so loud and disconcerting that I almost walked out then. I was seriously getting crowd anxiety just from the level of noise. I get that it’s supposed to set the place, but when it’s so overwhelming that you can’t appreciate what dialog there is — even with subtitles — it’s just too much.

    From there we’re treated to a graphic oral sex scene between a man and a male prostitute that would be more appropriate for a gay porn film, and another graphic sex scene between a young man and woman that looked pretty darn real. Why? I guess because those are the things Mendoza felt were important to show us about those people.

    Mendoza likes to follow people around in their natural setting, and that’s pretty much what he does in this film; unfortunately, it’s just not that interesting, because he doesn’t give us enough about any of the characters to make us care about why we should want to spend 90 minutes or so of our lives watching them.

    It’s supposed to be, I guess, about the various relationships: the family matriarch is suing her husband for bigamy and wants him to go to jail, while her children want to see their father acquitted so as not to have his out-of-wedlock offspring legally recognized; the older daughter is trapped in a loveless relationship with her husband, who she married only because she was pregnant; the younger daughter wants to emulate the transitive prostitutes; the nephew, who has a boil on his ass, has gotten his girlfriend pregnant, adding to the family’s poverty. And so on. It should have (and probably could have) been interesting, but it just wasn’t.

    The end of it for me and James was a disgustingly graphic scene of the nephew popping the boil on his ass with a coke bottle. I’m sure it was supposed to be metaphorical, but it was just gross, and that was enough for us.

    We headed over to a little panini cafe to grab a bite of dinner before Tokyo Sonata (which, I’m glad to say, was a wonderful film that reminded me a bit of Dance with Me — the good Japanese version, not the lousy remake). While we were eating, we amused ourselves watching the wretched Euro-disco videos that play incessantly on the TV there.

    Our favorite was a brilliant little number called “You’ve Got the Sweetest Ass in the World.” It’s so, so bad it’s unbelievable that someone got paid to write it, and even more so that someone would sing it, but now it’s incessantly stuck in our heads. On the plus side for the guys in the cafe, the video features a lot of women who are dressed like prostitutes in tiny gold lame microshorts, so I guess the effort wasn’t entirely wasted.

  5. charlie says:

    A common complaint- bad script. So it’s enough just writing about squatter & prostitues, folks- dapat may alam sa plot & story di lang sa mga pakunwaring social relevance. A wake-up call to the relics of Brocka, di na uso drama niyo. More Michiko Yamamoto, not Lao

  6. charlie says:

    well what’s my beef I’m hitting Mendoza & Lao? Because they’re just mimicking Brocka. Kumita na yan, be original. Lao belong to the ancient times & may the fact that his name was immediately mentioned in a review (negatively) would drill to his head he shouldn’t pollute anymore the current indie scene. & the impression that stories about squatters & prostitutes are the only things Filipino directors are capable of should be banished forever. Are there no dramas in the concrete jungle of Makati? Are there nodramas in Ortigas? These people are deliberately destroying the image of the Philippines just to serve their selfish interests- become well-known in the West through the misery of the poor Filipinos? Social conscience pa daw ha! Paano mamumulat ang masa e di naman interesado manood in the first place, as you said in a an interview with AFP? Eh obvious you’re doing it for the foreigners at the expense of the reputation of your country, you hypocrites. Ayan, nakarma kayo

  7. charlie says:

    ito ang grupong gumagaya kay Brocka, mga pa-Brocka

    Mel Chionglo- Burlesk King (prostitute,gay)
    Brillante Mendoza- Masahista (prostitute,gay)
    Jeffrey Jeturian – Kubrador (squatter)
    Brillante Mendoza – Tirador (squatter)
    Brillante Mendoza- Foster Child (squatter)
    Brillante Mendoza- Serbis (prostitute,gay)

    Ano, wala nang alam na topic? The success of Lav Diaz & Raya Martin should be a lesson that it’s better to be original

  8. charlie says:

    Did you think the fags at Cannes loved “Serbis”? Here’s the review of “Advocateinsider”


    Serbis — Then I caught up with “Serbis” aka “Service,” a Filipino film that — it’s safe to say — has received the worst reviews of any film in Competition. So why did I go? Because I slept in (till 9 am, mind you, after getting to sleep at 4 am), only to find out it was filled with queer action. Indeed it was. Set in a crumbling movie palace that is truly rambling and houses an extended family, the movie shows a constant stream of rent boys, old queens (really, there’s no other way to describe the busload of older men who flounce about so aggressively that they’re flaming even by flaming queen standards) and transvestites all getting it on one way or another. There’s one son who gets a blowjob from a prostitute that certainly looks like a girl but is referred to as a “faggot” and another who has gotten his girlfriend pregnant and a big boil on his butt People run up and down the countless stairways again and again and again and it all becomes very wearing. It doesn’t help that the lcoation they shot at is apparently in the middle of the loudest intersection in the free world — most of the soundtrack contains an overwhelming amount of street noise and honking cars, with the characters sometimes shouting their dialogue. It had a compelling sort of awfulness about it. But good? No, afraid not.

  9. charlie says:

    saan ka nakakita, sumawsaw lang si Armando Lao sa indie scene, pati mga bading nandiri na sa isang pelikula, sa Cannes pa ha

    kaya Brillante Mendoza & the rest (Jeturian din),should start being original & be done with the pa-Brocka epek. Read the comments about Raya Martin in Bafici in Buenos Aires, Lav Diaz in Variety- they didn’t have to be pa-social relevance epek but they came out with intelligent films without destroying the image of the Philippines. The Brazillians are free to film their favelas because their sckyscraper-filled cities like Sao Paolo & Rio are well-known. Manila is an unknown, & viewers of “Tirador” anywhere don’t know most Filipinos don’t go to Quiapo but would believe that’s really the real Manila lived in by most of its citizens. Our politicians won’t be the one embarassed, they have the money to buy apartments in New York- they’re embarassing milions of Filipinos worldwide who are put into the defensive. Manila has more skyscrapers than any of the cities in Europe but because of the self-conceit of some of these filmmakers, Manila will forever be a slum area to the rest of the world

  10. here’s what charlie roces has been commenting on my blog:

    “It’s good Raya Martin, Lav Diaz,etc. are not bent on copying Brocka. Mendoza should think original & not rely on the Brocka relics like Lao… Well, Mendoza should stop copying Brocka if he wants to be respected like Raya or Lav in the world…A wake-up call to the relics of Brocka, di na uso drama niyo… kaya Brillante Mendoza & the rest (Jeturian din),should start being original & be done with the pa-Brocka epek. ”

    here’s some news for you:

    Piolo goes indie again
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 03:06:00 06/01/2008

    MANILA, Philippines – Actor Piolo Pascual has started work on his third indie movie, “Manila,” a twin bill directed by Adolfo Alix Jr. and Raya Martin.

    “Manila” is a tribute to Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal. Piolo is also co-producer. Joining him in the cast are Rosanna Roces, Mitch Valdes, Jodi Sta. Maria, Jay Manalo, Anita Linda and Alessandra de Rossi.

    — manila is a film with two stories, the first half of the film is based on jaguar and the other half, by manila by night (or city after dark). jaguar is by lino brocka and ishmael bernal directed manila by night in 1980.

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