Brillante’s ‘Mindanao’ continues film fest run overseas

One month since its world premiere at the 24th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), the latest work of Brillante Ma Mendozahas been selected by prestigious film fests in Taiwan, India, Estonia, and Egypt.

Judy Ann Santos bagged the best actress award at the 41st Cairo International Film Festival for her performance in the film.
 The film was part of the lineups in the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (TGHFF), Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (TBNFF), and Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), which are all happened in November.

Penned by Honee Alipio and starring Judy Ann Santos and Allen Dizon, the film is about the struggles of Saima (Santos), wife to military medic (Dizon) and mother to a young girl battling cancer.

Mindanao was screened on Nov. 8, 12, and 18 as part of the Viva Auteur section at the TGHFF. The TGHFF, which started in 1980 as a non-competitive event, ran from Nov. 7 to 24. 

Mendoza’s 123-minute film was also an entry to Kolkata’s International Competition: Innovation in Moving Images. It had screenings on Nov. 11 at Nazrul Tirtha and Nov. 13 at Rabindra Sadan. The 25th KIFF screened 366 movies in 17 venues from Nov. 8 to 15. 

Mindanao had its European premiere at the TBNFF in Estonia on Nov. 15, followed by screenings on Nov. 19 and 21. Tallinn is among the 15 A-list film festivals rated by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations. According to the synopsis provided by Liisi Rohumäe on the Tallinn website, “Undoubtedly this is a difficult movie, but there is also lightness here. Enchanting Mindanao catches your breath.” The Tallinn film fest ran from Nov. 15 to Dec. 1.

After Tallinn, Mindanao headed over to Cairo, home to the oldest yearly film festival in Africa, the Arab World, and the Middle East. It was part of the CIFF’s International Competition.

The CIFF, which ran from Nov. 20 to 29, is also an A-list film fest.

“Brillante Mendoza expresses a complex of human emotions depending on a harsh and painful reality as well as a very special life experience, in a unique cinematic style that combines animation to tell the epic tale of Princess Mindanao who casts a shadow over the civil war that tore the Philippines apart,” Rasha Hosny wrote on the CIFF website.

Jessica Kiang of echoed Hosny in her Mindanao review: “At his most celebrated, such as with his divisive but Cannes best director-winning Kinatay, Mendoza’s blunt, unblinking style is an asset, provoking discomfort by forcing us to confront brutally upsetting realities.”

 The Variety writer also praised Santos who worked with Mendoza for the first time in Mindanao. Kiang added, “Santos turns in a de-glammed, gently anguished, remarkably sympathetic performance.”

 Wendy Ide of Screen International commended Santos as well for “retaining grace and dignity” in her portrayal. “The film’s main asset is the presence of actress Judy Ann Santos, who is luminous in the role of the mother, Saima,” noted Ide in her review posted on

 After its global debut at the BIFF, Mindanao was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival. With all the rounds thatMindanao has made internationally, Mendoza admitted that he is all the more looking forward to his film’s screenings in the Philippines.

 Mindanao, which has been recently awarded a Grade A by the Cinema Evaluation Board, is an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival in December.

 Mindanao is from Center Stage Productions. Its producers are Mendoza and Carlo Valenzona. Editing was by Diego Marx Dobles, cinematography was helmed by Odyssey Flores, production design was done by Dante Mendoza, and music was care of Teresa Barrozo. It will be shown nationwide in the Philippines on Dec. 25.

Topics: 24th Busan International Film Festival , Judy Ann Santos ,  Allen Dizon , , Mindanao , Honee Alipio
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