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Brillante Mendoza’s “Lola” will compete at Venice Filmfest

After conquering Cannes (for the 2nd time) last May and bagging the Best Director prize for "Kinatay", Philippine Director Brillante 'Dante' Mendoza is setting his sights on the 66th Venice International Film Festival this time with the 'surprise' entry of his latest movie "Lola" (Grandmother) in the Official Competition.


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I read this “Breaking News” report from Ricky Lo's Funfare column at the Philippine Star. Here is the article in full:


Dante’s Lola is ’surprise entry’ at Venice Filmfest


Will, rather can, Brillante "Dante" Mendoza duplicate his Best Director feat in Cannes at the 66th Venice Film Festival?


Dante’s Lola is the "surprise film" at Venice’s official competition. Starring Anita Linda (as Lola Sepa), Lola has been put "on hold" since 2007 due to budget constraints, preceded by Dante’s other projects including Foster Child, Tirador, Serbis and Kinatay (which won for him the Best Director award in Cannes last May). Thankfully, Dante managed to wrap the shooting of Lola in time for the Venice Filmfest (where another Filipino film, Engkwentro, directorial debut of Pepe Diokno, is competing in the Orizzonti Section for New Trends in Cinema) after he came back from Cannes. He was tight-lipped about it…until now.


Ferdinand Lapuz, Funfare’s international correspondent and Dante’s co-producer, said that they actually talked with a major studio but the initial negotiations bogged down. Dante then asked Swift Productions if they were willing to co-produce Lola again (after Kinatay) with Centerstage Productions. Didier Costet, Swift’s CEO, agreed because he believed in the project.


"The shooting started last June 18," said Ferdinand. "We had problems with the casting. The original choice for one of the lead roles could no longer shoot outside of her home due to illness."


The cast also includes theater veteran Rustica Carpio as Lola Puring. Except for Jhong Hilario (Kinatay) and Brian Jerome Go (Serbis), the two other actors are being directed by Dante for the first time — Tanya Gomez and Ketchup Eusebio.


"Since the script was not fully written yet, first-time scriptwriter Linda Casimiro had to rush the screenplay. There were times when she had to do revisions right on the set. We finished the shoot on July 18. We were informed of the official invitation of the film as the 'surprise film' last Aug. 20. The festival started on Sept. 2 which gave us just three weeks to prepare for the festival. The invitation was sent by Paolo Moretti which was signed by festival director Marco Mueller. Venice programmer Paolo Bertolin, a supporter of Filipino Cinema, helped facilitate the entry of Lola because it was past the official deadline. The movie’s first screening is on Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sala Grande."


The filmfest's first "surprise film" announced earlier is My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done by Werner Herzog. It is the first time in the recent history of the festival that a director has two films in competition. Herzog's other film is Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.


Dante is only the second Filipino director to compete in the Venice Filmfest. The first was Mike de Leon with Sister Stella L. (presented under the title Sangandaan) in 1984. But Dante is the first Filipino director to compete both in Cannes and Venice in the same year.


"We would like to thank the Film Development Council of the Philippines headed by chairman Jacky Atienza, executive director Lali Suzara, Digna Santiago and Christine Dayrit for helping us with our trip to Venice," added Ferdinand who left with Dante and company yesterday. "And also, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)."


This year's jury is headed by Ang Lee.


Mendoza is really going great guns this year. If he achieves another successful participation at the Venice Filmfest, then his career is already firmly etched in the big league. Actually, his presence alone in both competition categories of Cannes and Venice has already solidified his world-class stature as a film director.


Cannes Best Director Brillante 'Dante' Mendoza is set to invade the Venice Filmfest with his new film "Lola" (Grandmother)


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Date Posted: 09-01-2010