Brillante Ma. Mendoza movies are always an event to watch out for. The filmmaker holds the distinction of being the only Filipino director to win the Best Director trophy at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2009 forKinatay. He bested among others such internationally acclaimed directors as Ang Lee, Pedro Almodovar, Jane Campion and Quentin Tarantino.
Three years have lapsed and in that span of time, Brillante who is also known simply as Direk Dante (Mendoza) in showbiz circles came up with a few short films. His latest full-length work called Captive is set to hit local theaters this September 5 Captivehad its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last February.
Produced by Swift Entertainment Production and Centerstage Production,Captive is headlined by respected French actress Isabelle Huppert with a strong Filipino cast composed of Ronnie Lazaro, Angel Aquino, Sid Lucero, Raymond Bagatsing, Rustica Carpio, Maria Isabel Lopez, Mercedes Cabral and Timothy Mabalot.
Inspired by the Dos Palmas kidnapping of two US missionaries by the Abu Sayyaf Group which made headlines in 2001 and other similar events, Captiverecreates the scenes that transpired during that year-long ordeal of the 20 local and foreign tourists abducted by the renegade group. On June 27, 2002, the military managed to stage a daring rescue but by that time, only the French social worker Therese Bourgoine (played by Huppert) and the British missionary Sophie Bernstein are saved alive from the clutches of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Captive is a searing cinematic treat because it is the product of thorough research and committed filmmaking. “The script was based on my intensive research on certain kidnapping events and where they actually happened and the testimonies of survivors, captors, the military and others who witnessed and/or were part of the crisis,” shares Direk Brillante.
Fro logistics and security reasons, the scenes of abduction, negotiation and rescue were not shot in the actual places where they transpired in Mindanao. Direk Brillante and his group recreated these places in similar locations such as a coastal resort in Calatagan, Batangas, a military camp in Tanay, Rizal, and the jungles of Zambales.
Acclaimed actress Isabelle Huppert’s role as a French social worker was fictional and served as a device with which the interior makeup of the Abu Sayyaf Group and the kidnapping are examined. Huppert and Direk Brillante actually go a long way. The French actress was the jury president at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival where Direk Brillante won for Kinatay. She was so impressed by Brillante’s documentary style of filmmaking that she readily agreed to collaborate on a film project with the Filipino auteur.
The result is Captive, another feather in Brillante Ma Mendoza’s cap and a movie that should not be missed by anyone who believes that Filipino artistry is at par with the best of the world. Says Direk Brillante: “As a filmmaker, I always try to work like a journalist. I show both sides, many sides of the situations as much as possible, regardless of my personal beliefs or causes.”
Captive is distributed locally by Star Cinema. It opens on September 5 nationwide.