Monday, September 29, 2008

"Serbis" Uncut in UP

Coco Martin in Serbis

I am excited to watch "Serbis" again for the third time. But this time, it's running at the UP Film Institute so this version will be uncut as assured to me by its writer Armando "Bing" Lao.

Here's the update on this brilliantly controversial film from the email of Nonoy Lauzon of UP Film Institute:

The UP Film Institute finally screens Brillante Mendoza’s “Serbis” for a maximum extensive run beginning Monday, 29 September 2008, at 2, 5 and 7 p.m.

The showcase for the acclaimed and multi-award- winning director’s latest film caps UP Film Institute’s distinct series consisting of an all-Filipino selection in commemoration of the month identified with the invention of movies. Serbis has already made history as the first Filipino film to vie in 24 years for the top plum in main competition at Cannes and the first from the country to ever make it to the main slate of the New York Film Festival. Cannes, of course, is touted as the “Grand Dame of all filmfests that not one comes close to rivaling.”

For its part, New York Film Festival has long been a major cultural event much anticipated each year. Though non-competitive, the festival is credited for its exclusivity, for prestige unmatched by any other filmfest in all of the United States and for symbolically putting film on an equal artistic footing with all the high arts such as classical music, opera, dance and theater.

Dispatch of the official Festival notes from New York best sum it all up for the film: “Raw and uncompromising, the seventh feature by Brillante Mendoza (Foster Child, ND/NF 2008), channeling both Fassbinder and John Waters, follows the travails of the Pineda family in the (Philippine) city of Angeles. “Bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, possible incest and bothersome skin irritations are all part of their daily challenges, but the real star of the show is an enormous, dilapidated movie theater that doubles as family business and living space. Clearly at one time a prestige establishment, the theater now runs porn double bills and serves as a meeting ground for hustlers of every conceivable persuasion. “Mendoza brilliantly captures here the sordid, fetid atmosphere, interweaving various family subplots with the comings and goings of customers, thieves and even a runaway goat while enveloping the viewer in a maelstrom of sound, noise and continuous motion.

“A bold, challenging work from one of the recently energized Filipino cinema’s most interesting talents.”—46th New York Film Festival (Sept 26–Oct 12, 2008).

The start of UP Film Institute’s run for Serbis could not come at a better time with its recent triumph in Russia where an all-female international jury bestowed on the film the twin honors for Best Director and Best Actress. It is currently playing in Bangkok for the Southeast Asian Competition.

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