Pinoy power: Filipino films at Cannes, Vancouver coproductions

As Straight contributor Mel Tobias pointed out in an article last year about the rebirth of Tagalog-language films, Filipino cinema is gaining worldwide recognition as its reinvigorated  film industry undergoes a period of growth.

A recent example of this development was when maverick, minimalist  director Brilliante Mendoza became the first Filipino director to show his films two years in a row at the Cannes Film Festival.

Last year, Mendoza's Service (Serbis), about a Manila family trying to save their movie theatre, played at the festival. It was the first Filipino film to compete for the Cannes Palme d'Or. Two other Pinoy films—Pedro "Joaqui" Valdes' short film "Bulong" and Raya Martin's "Now Showing"—also played at the prestigious festival.

This year, Mendoza's Kinatay (which means to butcher" in Tagalog)—a dark thriller about a man, seeking to raise enough money to marry his girlfriend, takes on a job that he discovers involves killing someone—will compete for the Cannes top prize. The film serves as a social critique of corruption in Filipino society.

Also at this year's Cannes are two other officially selected Filipino films: Adolfo Alix Jr. and Raya Martin's Manila in addition to Martin's Independencia.

Meanwhile, Vancouver's Long Tale Entertaiment Productions is currently working on two Filipino films.

Getting to America is a Canada-Australia-Philippines coproduction directed by Gail Harvey based on a true story about a Manila hotel worker who struggles to obtain a U.S. visa to help his impoverished family.

Also in the works is Vanilla Manila, about a young man from Sicamous, B.C. who searches for his father in the Philippines but is drawn into the erotic world of macho dancing, which is performed by straight men in gay bars.