"I trust the actors' instincts"
by Domenico La Porta
- A quest for truth and trust in one's actors. The Filipino filmmaker behind Captive explains his vision.
After being selected twice in the competition at Cannes (with an award for best director in 2009) and once in Venice, the Filipino film director is for the first time in the competition line-up in Berlin with French majority production Captive [+see also:
interview: Brillante Mendoza
interview: Isabelle Huppert
film profile]. Here follow extracts from the press conference.
Do you consider Captive to be completely different from your previous feature films?
Brillante Mendoza: It's not the type of film that I usually make, because the action covers a period of time much longer than most of my previous films. It's a new challenge for me, but the realist approach stays the same.
Why and how did you choose the topic of the 2001 kidnapping?
As artists, we have the obligation to give account of the problems in the world that surrounds us. A director who wants to be loyal to reality, and this is my case, should never take sides. This is want I have tried to do here. I went to where the incident happened in 2001 to conduct extensive research. I interviewed survivers, captives, but also people from the military camps, members of the seperatist group in the film. I wanted testimonies from both sides to be as loyal as possible to reality. There have been several similar incidents in this area of the Philippines, but this kind of problem affects the whole world as much as it does the Filipino government. It is up to the government to face it, but international politics should not ignore these events either.
How did Isabelle Huppert become involved in the project?
Someone rang me while I was in a jury in São Paulo to say that Isabelle was in town. I tried to meet her, and she told me that she had already been to the Philippines. I told her that the next time she went, perhaps we could shoot a film together, and this is what happened.
How did you direct her?
When I work with an actor, I generally trust him. This is how I generally proceed with my Filipino actors, and I am very happy that Isabelle Huppert accepted to work this way. This is why I present a situation to them and I trust their instinct to know how to deal with it. I can't tell them how to act or teach them anything because I am not an actor myself.
What of the theme of religion in your film?
The film talks about humanity, perseverence, but it's also a film about spirituality, just as much Muslim as Christian. I wanted to incorporate this dimension into the film, because it enriches the characters' motivations.