Filipino director Brillante Mendoza won the Best Director Award at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival -- a triumph for the independent filmmaker and his latest work, the dark crime drama Kinatay.
The choice raised eyebrows, as Kinatay, which means "slaughter" or "massacre" in Tagalog, had been mostly panned by critics.
Mendoza's prize was presented by another uncompromising filmmaker, Terry Gilliam, whose latest work, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, screened out of competition.
It's a historic first win at Cannes by a Filipino director, yet Mendoza says he doesn't expect any government support for his work, and commercial prospects are pretty slim as well.
Mendoza was in Cannes for the third year in a row. Last year his Serbis, a gritty, literally blistering drama about a family that runs a porn cinema, was in the main competition and similarly polarized critics. In 2007, his Foster Child was in the Directors' Fortnight. Aside from Mendoza, the only other Filipino director to compete in the main competition at Cannes was Lino Brocka, back in the 1980s. Also back in the '80s, Mike De Leon had films screened in a Parallel Section program.
Kinatay stars Coco Martin as a young gangster who is caught up in the murder, rape and mutilation of a prostitute. "This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real," Mendoza had told the press earlier during the festival.
Other prizes went to films that had been tipped as favorites: The White Ribbon by Michael Haneke won the Palme d'Or, A Prophet by Jacque Audiard won the runner-up Grand Prix and Wild Grass by Alain Resnais won a Special Jury Prize. Jury Prizes also went to Fish Tank by Andrea Arnold and Thirst by Park Chan-wook. Chinese director Lou Ye, defying a ban on filmmaking by the Chinese government, won best screenplay for Spring Fever.
The Palme d'Or jury was headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert, with actresses Asia Argento, Shu Qi, Sharmila Tagore and Robin Wright Penn, directors Nuri Bilge Ceylan, James Gray and Lee Chang-dong and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi.
The Hollywood Reporter has more.
In the Un Certain Regard competition, the top prize went to Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos, with a Jury Prize to Police, Adjective by Corneliu Porumboiu and Special Prizes for No One Knows About Persian Cats by Bahman Ghobadi and Father of My Children by Mia Hansen-Love.
IndieWire has the complete list of winners.
Another Filipino film, Independencia by Raya Martin, and Nymph by Thailand's Pen-ek Ratanaruang had made their premieres in the Un Certain Regard program. A third Filipino feature, Martin's and Adolfo Alix Jr.'s Manila, was shown in a special screening.
Two Southeast Asian directors made their feature-film debuts in the Director's Fortnight -- Malaysia's Chris Chong with Karaoke and Singaporean director Ho Tzu-Nyen with HERE. They were nominees for the Camera d'Or award for first-time directors.
Update: Something to Sing About has more coverage of Mendoza's triumph, and Critic After Dark has commentary.
(Photo via Yahoo! News/AP, Matt Sayles)