FAC Interviews MONDOMANILA Director Khavn De La Cruz

FAC is sponsoring the Mondo Mixer to follow the MondoManila U.S. premiere screening on Philippine Independence Day, June 12.
7:30pm screening
8:45pm Mondo Mixer
Arena Cinema
1625 N. Palmas Ave.
Hollywood, CA
arenascreen.com

khavn bio

1. A lot of the Philippine cinema that Filipino Americans are exposed to is broad comedy or melodramatic telenovelas. Mondo Manila is something completely different. What was your inspiration for this story?

> The Manila movies of Lino Brocka (“Manila In The Claws Of Neon”) and Ishmael Bernal (“Manila By Night”), mashed up with the Mondo movies started by Gualtiero Jacopetti (“Mondo Cane”). Also the very Philippine cinema you’re referring to—broad comedies, melodramatic telenovelas; I subverted those by doing the opposite.

2. The depiction of Manila in your film may be shocking and disturbing to some Filipino Americans, particularly those who haven’t been to the Philippines or those who’ve only been to the provinces or developed areas like Makati. What do you think their reaction will be? What do you want their reaction to be?

> Angry and disturbed most likely. I’ve been receiving a lot of bile from Filipinos who have seen only the trailer, not the movie. “This movie is crap.” “The trailer is garbage.” “This is degradation of the human spirit, the sewer is where it belongs.” But that is good too. If Mondomanila could inspire such a passionate response, then it has done half its work. I want the audience to be moved enough to question the truths they know, their image of Manila, especially. But if that’s too much to ask for, I hope they enjoy the film at least.

3. Filmmaking wise we haven’t seen anything as stylistically daring like this come to the U.S. from the Philippines. What are your filmmaking and stylistic influences?

> We don’t choose our influences. They influence us whether we like it or not. Given that, the following could be considered my influences: post-surrealist poetry, avant-garde jazz, some Philippine genre movies from the 1940s to the 1980s, all things transgressive.

4. What was the budget and how long was the shooting schedule for the film?

> The production budget was around $30,000. We shot the film in 4 days.

5. How long did it take to complete the film from beginning to end?

> I started working on the screenplay in 2002; premiered it in Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2012.

6. What would you say is the biggest obstacle for independent filmmakers in the Philippines?

> More than the budget (which is the common answer), it’s fear. Fear of actually making a film, fear that the film is not good enough, fear that it will all end up a waste of time and energy, fear of making decisions, fear of creation.

7. What is the best thing about being an indie filmmaker there?

> Indie is a big and confused word in the Philippines. Let’s just call it guerilla. Most of the studios are passing themselves off as indie outfits now. The best thing is that I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. But that’s a double-bladed gift: it’s also the worst thing about it. One has to be more self-reliant than Thoreau, to be able to keep creating.

8. Where do you think the future of Philippine cinema is going considering the increasing penetration of broadband, satellite and mobile technologies in the Philippines?

> I’m no prophet. Philippine Cinema will go where it wants to go, regardless of lousy wi-fi, greedy capitalists, and the corrupt government. Starting with the rebirth of Philppine Cinema in the 2000s thanks to the digital revolution, Filipino filmmakers have been churning out more and more films year by year. Since it’s harder to start than to stop, I guess at the end of the world, there will be 186,000 Filipino films per second, to appropriate Brautigan.

9. What advice would you give to FilAm filmmakers who want to shoot in the Philippines?

> Never forget the Fil in the Am. Enjoy the culture. Have fun. Embrace your roots. Speak the local language. Immerse. The food won’t kill you, but maybe the tap water would. And if you run as fast as you shoot, so much the better.

10. Any final thoughts you think FilAms should know regarding you and/or the film?

> I hoard. Balut is a vegetable. Cinema is meant to be destroyed. Forget everything upon entering Mondomanila.

Poster02_Mondomanila

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One thought on “FAC Interviews MONDOMANILA Director Khavn De La Cruz

  1. Khavn is certainly one of the finest of this new era of indie films. I remember the time he was able to deflect a notorious silent film critic, ironically loud singer of Kalayo by asking her if she ever ate “pagpag” which was the feature of one of his early films… into silence. Thus is the prowess and relevance of indie film makers such as him in these contemporary times.

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