Judy Ann Santos is starring in a Brillante Mendoza film for the first time. She plays the lead character in the upcoming film “Mindanao,” which is written by Honee Alipio with Armando “Bing” Lao as the creative consultant.
“Finally, may movie ako with Direk ‘Dante’ Brillante Mendoza,” (Finally, I have a movie with Direk ‘Dante’ Brillante Mendoza) Santos said. “I’m so excited na mapanood ninyong lahat dahil pinagpaguran namin ito (to show it to all of you because we worked hard for this.”
To date, Mendoza is still the only Filipino filmmaker to win the prestigious Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director award) at the Cannes Film Festival. He has four feature films screened at the annual international film festival namely “Serbis” (Service), “Kinatay” (Butchered), “Taklub” (Trap) and “Ma’ Rosa,” which are different from “Mindanao” in terms of film aesthetics.
“Mindanao” boasts a splendid production design by Mendoza himself. Joining him behind the cameras are assistant directors Charita Castinlag and Raymund Ribay Gutierrez, cinematographer Odyssey Flores, editor Diego Marx Dobles, line producer Carlo Valenzona, production manager Antonio del Rosario, art directors James Rosendal and Katrina Napigkit, master stylist Mikee Supetran and casting director Evangeline Torcino.
In “Mindanao,” Santos plays Muslim woman Saima Datupalo who is taking care of her cancer-stricken daughter named Aisa Datupalo (Yuna Tangog) in a temporary home for children with cancer called the House of Hope in Davao. Allen Dizon plays Saima’s husband Malang Datupalo, a combat medic who is in an offensive operation in Maguindanao.
Both Davao and Maguindanao are in the southern part of the Philippines called Mindanao. At the House of Hope, Saima retells to Aisa the epic tale of warrior brothers Rajah and Sulayman fighting against the dragons Ginto and Pula, a story that mirrors the harrowing life in Mindanao.
Before playing a soldier in “Mindanao,” Dizon played a police officer in Mendoza’s “Alpha: The Right to Kill.” To play Saima, Santos had a Muslim dance training with choreographer Al Bernard Velarde Garcia.
Among Santos, Dizon and Tangog’s “Mindanao” co-actors are Vince Rillon, Ruby Ruiz, Chai Fonacier, Fe Saligumba, Perry Dizon, Nezzar Piti-Ilan, Vicky Ozawa, Emma Ressureccion, MJ Jacobo, Aileen Sahibad, Racma Caman Tonga, Abdulhakim Suare and Jenny Mondido. Ketchup Eusebio, Epy Quizon, Richard Manabat, Kiko Matos, JC Tan and Jun Nayra play soldiers while the other House of Hope kids are played by Jayzelle Suan, Jordhen Suan, Zef Esquibal, Franz Alleria Tan, Ella Sacedon, MG Sacedon, Allie Flores, Jaz Evoran, Erick Joy de la Cruz and Miel Espinosa.
Jaypee Jamasali, Bernard Laxa, Gilbert Juntilla and Arrian Labios play Moro Islamic Liberation Front members. Venus Vanessa Martinez, Liezel Banlasam, Lenard Uy, Reggie Abrenica and Sweet Cayetano play nurses while Chat Fernandez, Minna Barri, Shema Orinolo and Ana Rose Bulacos appear as hospital staff.
Executive produced by Mendoza, “Mindanao” features Team App’s animation, Hiroyuki Ishizaka’s sound design and Teresa Barrozo’s music. Maan Chua also appears in the film as a singer, performing her original song “Itadyak.”
Have a glimpse of of the beauty of “Mindanao” featuring Chua’s “Itadyak” here: