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"CAPTIVE" A Brillante Ma Mendoza Film


CAPTIVE is a state of being confined to a space from which it is difficult to escape.I could never imagine myself being in this state and I can say that surviving from it would be a miracle. Aside from the fact that I am claustrophobic, I can hardly breathe in a confined area especially if there is no way out. But some people I know are more energetic and their adrenaline shoots-up in situations like these. They can think and move faster for their survival and come up with so many possible choices in their minds in order to escape. But what if "Even Choice Is Not An Option?"

CAPTIVE is a film by 2009 Cannes Film Festival Best Director winner, Brillante Ma Mendoza. The film is adapted from the Dos Palmas kidnapping incident of two US missionaries by the Abu Sayyaf in 2001.


Recently, I, together with other co-bloggers, had a chance to talk to Brillante Ma Mendoza, the director of CAPTIVE and one of the  country's most respected film makers. I didn't even think twice when I was invited and I cancelled all my meetings for this once in a lifetime chance. The CAPTIVE Bloggers Conference with Director Mendoza was held at Patio Carlito Restaurant, Quezon City around 11:30AM.

From the time he started to talk, we learned so many things not only about the movie but mostly about the director himself. The movie has 200 members including the 40 actors/actresses like Isabelle Huppert, Ronnie Lazaro, Angel Aquino, Sid Lucero, Raymond Bagatsing, Rustica Carpio, Maria Isabel Lopez, Mercedes Cabral, Kathy Mulville, and Timothy Mabalot. It took 25 back-breaking days to simulate the kidnapping and the experience of being held captive from resort to city to boat ride and up to the forest. But the research and post-production (which was mostly done in France) took a year to finish, hiking the total production cost to an estimated 60 million pesos.

Director Mendoza's crew did not actually shoot the film in Basilan, Lamitan, Palawan or any other part of Mindanao for security reasons. Instead, they used  the military camp in Tanay, Rizal, the jungle of Zambales, and the coastal and mountainous province almost a hundred kilometers northeast of Metro Manila. The film also showed some details of the ordeal like the actual childbirth of one of the kidnap victims and a live snake eating a chicken. For the former, the production crew had to search for a pregnant woman who was about to give birth and for the latter, Mendoza recounted how long it took (Very LONG) to capture the exact moment when the snake lunged for the chicken. The film also includes a scene where Isabelle Huppert, a popular French actress who plays the role of volunteer social worker Therese Burgoine, saw a Sarimanok (an omen of peace and good fortune) while wandering in the forest.

Like any director, Brillante Ma Mendoza also encountered a lot of challenges such as keeping true to the focus of the story, handling a big production and directing a world-renowned, award-winning actress like Isabelle Huppert (Best Actress, Cannes). He said, "Along the way, you would become enlightened through the process".

Director Mendoza expects that CAPTIVE will change the perspective of some people about Muslims, the military, and the government. He is ready for criticisms and will not be surprised that some people will not like this film at all. Nevertheless, Director Mendoza is passionate when it comes to sharing his film, knowledge, and talent thru film viewing and invitational talks. He also reiterates his undying enthusiasm for submitting his works and joining international film festivals because these are venues for interaction with legit and notable members of the film industry - from actors to critics who are usually present on such events.

It is a great experience and honor to listen and talk to Director Brillante Ma Mendoza, a film maker who is mostly unbiased in making a film and depicts realism in his celluloid narratives. Mendoza is undoubtedly a master of his craft and yet, he is admirably unselfish when it comes to imparting his knowledge about film making. It is no wonder that he had bagged major awards from international film festivals and I believe he will continue to do so in the coming years. He is a true film ambassador of the Philippines, the most brilliant in our present era.

To know more about the film CAPTIVE ,"Like" it HERE on Facebook. To request for a film viewing for schools , just email brillante_ma@yahoo.com or visit www.brilliantemamendoza.com. The regular showing of CAPTIVE in theaters is on September 5, 2012.

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