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This is not Mondomanila |


This is not Mondomanila

WONDERBLOG - Ping Medina -

This is not a film by Khavn. This is not a Filmless Films production. This is not Mondomanila.

Khavn De La Cruz’s 28th full-length film Mondomanila: Or How I Fixed My Hair After A Rather Long Journey is an adaptation of Norman Wilwayco’s triple-Palanca-winning novel (2002), short story (2000), and screenplay (2003). He’s one of the independent film industry’s most colorful personalities and this might just be his most important work yet.

Khavn believes that Mondomanila offers “one of the most horrifying backyards” only squeamish citizens of the metro would gladly turn a blind eye to. So join us as Supreme digs up some bones in the backyard Khavn, as he forays into the crapshoot of the gutless and unknown.

SUPREME: How was your experience shooting the film?

KHAVN: We were shooting in Sitio San Roque, the slum community near TriNoma, which was demolished last September. We had problems with some of the residents because they were a bit territorial. We couldn’t shoot in some places, and even if we could, we couldn’t get that loud. Also, there were some “sex” scenes — hot, steamy lesbian action —and they thought we were shooting a porn film. So in the middle of the shoot, my line producer and production manager, Rolly and Robin Palmes (a.k.a. The Palmes Brothers), had to deal with the godfather and his goons. Fortunately, they were able to sort things out and they learned the valuable lesson of the big difference between art and pornography. Sort of.

Why did you choose to adapt Norman Wilwayco’s novel?

Why not? It’s a divine intersection of sorts. I was looking for something different to do and one of them is adapting a novel into a film. Then, there was Norman Wilwayco. After being floored by the wallop punch of the novel originally entitled Kung Paano Ko Inayos Ang Buhok Ko Matapos Ang Mahaba-haba Ring Paglalakbay, we went on to craft the screenplay, condensing the multi-plot, multi-location, three decades-spanning gargantua into a 75-minute story set in a surreal slum community, taking place in over two days.

There are strong images in the film. Some are even grotesque. Is it really like that in the novel?

No, I chose not to do a “faithful” adaptation of the novel, or to make a literal translation of it. I chose to go straight to the heart of Mondomanila and make a film springing from that. There are some strong and grotesque imagery in the novel, but in the film, everything is heightened, pushed and expanded to its extreme.

The visual style is very distinct. How has Mondomanila progressed from your past works?

It’s the culmination. It’s my 28th full-length feature film on top of making more than a hundred shorts. So everything that I’ve learned or unlearned during the creation/production of my previous films informs Mondo. Even though I wanted to finish this film seven years ago, it wouldn’t have been the same. It wouldn’t have been this movie, even if the shooting screenplay, which won the Palanca in 2003, was already there. Mondomanila is like a mash-up, a combination of the various threads I’m exploring in my filmmaking, all tangled up.

How was it like working with Palito?

Deadly! (Laughs.) I wanted to make a documentary about him, his drumming, his heyday as an actor, etc. But then, Mondo came along first. And then, he went ahead first (passed away). He’s also a director himself, so he shared some of his ideas on set. He loved to talk. Casting is 50% or more of the movie, so we were blessed to have Palito around. He really gave life to his arsonist-lover-boy character, Pablong Shoeshine. Plus, his classic Palito antics sprinkled around like pixie dust.

Did your friend Alexis Tioseco influence you to make the film?

By dying. We started production after a month that Nika (Bohinc) and Alexis were shot. Life is short. Make the most of it. No time for dilly-dallying. Do what you love. Love to the fullest.

I think he’ll appreciate Mondomanila since he was also a big fan of EDSA XXX’s screenplay, which I have yet to shoot, by the way. EDSA XXX happens to have a lot of similarities with Mondomanila in terms of aesthetics, so yeah, I think Alexis would have appreciated this film.

How was touring Europe with your band, Vigo?

It was great! We played 12 concerts in two weeks all around Denmark, in several cities including Copenhagen. It was a blast performing for the Danish audience, with five top-notch Filipino musicians. With Vigo, we were doing a dozen songs that I wrote, arranged meticulously by the whole band, producing a stellar sound that left the European audience dumbfounded.

It’s also great to have received praise from the manager of Pumpehuset, one of Copenhagen’s best venues. He told us that among all the bands he’s heard, we’re definitely one of the best. And he’s definitely seen some of the best. They’ve played host to acts like Macy Gray, Def Leppard, Melanie C., Röyksopp, Paramore, Juliette Lewis, Ultravox, Mr. Bungle, Silverchair, Echobelly. So, unsolicited praise is the best.

Would you ever make a commercial movie?

Why not? It depends. It all depends on the golden, wild goose. All my movies are commercial, just not in the conventional sense. What is commerce? What is film? The problem is everything here is censored, no thanks to Marcos. If you’re asking if I m gonna make a traditional, formulaic Hollywood rip-off, I’d rather plant camote or pull my nails. A day job isn’t bad, nothing wrong with a day job. Independent cinema is the anti-thesis of all that.

Where do you see the digital film medium 10 years from now?

Everywhere. All of the above. Going back to analog. Replaced by another format. Getting more interactive. Lighter, faster, friendlier. More and less of a lot of things. Everything that can be dreamed of now will then be realized then. And it will be a stranger world we live in. Frankly, I can’t wait.

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There is a Mondomanila screening at 7 p.m. tonight at Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute. For follow-up screenings, subscribe to the Mondomanila page on Facebook.

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