FILM WINS CANNES DIRECTOR PRIZE FOR MENDOZA
Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza won the Best Director prize Sunday at the Cannes Film Festival for Kinatay. The film was hated by some (Roger Ebert suggested that it is the worst film in the history of the Cannes Film Festival), but according to a report at Inquirer.net, Quentin Tarantino called it "extraordinary," telling the French newspaper Metro, "I’d gladly defend Kinatay … it reminded me of Brian De Palma." Kinatay (the title translates to "slaughtered" or "butchered" in English) follows a young policeman as he agrees to join an unnamed operation with a shady friend. The job turns out to be the kidnapping, rape, and butchering of a drug-money-indebted prostitute by a gang of men, some of which are senior members of the police force.
Tarantino surely saw similarities between Kinatay and De Palma's Casualties Of War, where the audience is driven to identify with a soldier who finds himself caught up in a kidnap-rape-and-murder situation that he feels helpless to do anything about. Mendoza opens the film (which I haven't seen) with the young man's wedding, and these daytime scenes are shot in 35mm. The night of the horrifying mission is shot in HD, as Mendoza, according to his press notes, attempts to show that "like the character, the city of Manila is full of mystery. It becomes a totally new character at night."
In the press notes, Mendoza presents his film as a Christian morality experience (the prostitute is named Madonna) that he states was based on a true event that he heard about first-hand from a criminology student. Mendoza wanted the audience to feel, like the young man, "trapped as both victim and accomplice." Screen Daily's Mike Goodridge wrote in his review of Kinatay, "Offering audiences no relief or redemption, it is perhaps most notable for its daring in attempting to capture the moment a young man crosses the line into irrevocable evil."