Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s film competes in the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival
It was the first time this pandemic that we attended a special film preview “physically” in a private home theater by Cannes winner Brillante Ma. Mendoza. His film, Resbak (Payback) produced by Cignal TV, Inc. is competing alongside Mikhail Red’s Arikasa in the 34th Tokyo International Film Festival this month.
This marks the first lead role for Vince Rillon who was last seen in Captive and Netflix’ Amo.
Vince belongs to a family of policemen. The youngest in seven siblings, his dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps but he gets sidelined into acting. “Disgrasya po nung nakita ako ni Direk Dante dahil po yung kuya ko naiwanan nya yung kutsara at tinidor sa amin. Tapos hinatid ko sa event (It was an accident when I met Direk Dante. My brother forgot the utensils and I delivered them),” he recalls. He was 14 years old. “Doon nya po ako nakita tapos nagtuloy tuloy na (He saw me and the rest is history).”
He plays Isaac, a motorbike thief, who belongs to a syndicate run by a local political family. How did he study for his role? “Lagi lang po akong nag-i-immersion (I was always doing immersions),” he muses. “Nagtatanong ako sa mga kaibigan ko, ka tropa ko kung may kilala silang ganito (I would ask my friends if they knew a character like the one I would portray),” added the 24-year-old actor.
In the film, he plays a street-smart crook who enjoys watching rap battles in the neighborhood. In order to help his family, he steals bikes from ongoing street riots and brings them to his boss, Jepoy (Albie Casino).
In real life, does he seek vengeance? “Hindi po ako nagtatanim ng sama ng loob kasi ako pa rin naman ang mahihirapan(I do not hold grudges because I will be the one who will suffer),” says the FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano actor. “Kung aapihin mo ko, OK lang basta ako, lagi lang ako magpapatawad (If you maltreat me, it’s OK, I’ll always forgive you).”
‘I am not really affected whether I’m being bashed here or abroad because I know my worth.’
He has good words for his director. “Tinutulungan niya po ako ngayon, kahit na hindi kami magka-ano-ano, tuloy ang suporta niya sa ’kin (He supports me, even if we’re not related),” says the Jose Rizal University student. “Gina-guide n’ya ko kahit na minsan napaka-pasaway ko (He guides me even if I’m sometimes a headache).”
Brillante’s mentorship led his protégé to love acting. He confesses, “Laki po ako sa hirap. Yung bahay namin medyosquatter area (Mandaluyong) (I grew up poor. We live in a squatter’s area).” The Thy Womb director would bring him to festivals abroad to educate him.
Sa kanya ko natutunan na may talent pala ako sa pag-a-arte (It was through him that I realized I had talent for acting,” he beams. But he won’t be around during the Tokyo filmfest due to his previous shooting commitment and the country’s strict quarantine protocols for returning travelers. “Sana magustuhan nila yung pelikula na ginawa ko. Masaya po, bagong journey (I hope they like the film. I am happy, it’s a new journey for me),” he smiles. Cast members include Nash Aguas, Felix Roco, Bibeth Orteza, Jay Manalo, Khalil Ramos, Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Lito Pimentel, among others.
In an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Brillante shares the effects of his association with the present administration. “I really don’t mind because, at the end of the day, I know my truths,” says the Golden Leopard winner of the 2005 Locarno International Film Festival. “I am not really affected whether I’m being bashed here or abroad because sa sarili ko alam ko ang ginagawa ko (I know my worth). I’d rather keep quiet and do my thing, yung trabaho ko kasi mas maraming nakikinabang pag nakikita nila hindi lang ‘yung output ko, yung totoong ginagawa ko para sa bayan(From what I do a lot benefit, not just my output, but what I really do for the country),” stresses the Pampanga filmmaker. “And I do not have to brag about it.”
He loves how the Japanese audience respect artists and their works. “The audience would stay and read the credits,” he adds. His films have a steady distribution in Japan. “Ang mga pelikula ko kasi napapalabas na sa Japan, hindi lang online, theatrical before, kahit paano may mga following na, may mga audience na ko, kilala na trabaho ko (My films are screened in Japan, both online and theatrical. I have a following, the Japanese audience know my films),” discloses the Urian winner.
The festival runs from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8, 2021, and the international competition jury are composed of Isabelle Huppert, Aoyama Shinji, Chris Fujiwara, Lorna Tee, and Sebu Hiroko.