[photo from village oblivia]
I received the news via a cable TV at home on a certain french Channel and also from the tidbits of CNN and BBC. It took hours before it reached ANC and the late night news shows on major local channels. I knew it was something different and i got the feeling that some sort of political phenomenon was going on. I made quick notes though i could memorize it in my head instantly:
Brillante Mendoza. Wins Prix de la Mise en Scene. Best. Director.
Cannes. Should blog this! 62nd. Beat Tarantino. Ang Lee. Campion. Haneke.
Who won the Palme d'Or?
A few hours later i got a telecast from ANC late night shows and added to my notes:
Michael Haneke. The White Ribbon. Palme d'Or. I Knew it!
A few days later i knew that people will abhor Mendoza for his film Kinatay. Ebert achieved the greatest possible exposure by killing it over his blog and declared it as the "worst film in Cannes' history."
Sometimes it's just a pain to dwell on this issue right away. One reason is that, Roger Ebert wins all the time because he is "the most influential film critic in the world." Another reason is that I, and maybe 99% of the Filipino audience, haven't seen the film.
I figure, i need an overnight sleep to refresh my mind and start anew. After reading Ebert's 'butchery' here, and also Noel Vera's counter-'Ebert' post here and an response-to-Ebert's-post post from Michael Mirasol here, i came to a naive conclusion (might be derive from a simplistic logic i had when i was high schooler): people have a tendency to overreact over things that does not seemed to matter because it happened a long time ago. Of course, some of you might judge me as a purely hypocritical, simplistic, even irrational and derogatory but i say to you (I quote from ULYSSES): "HISTORY IS NIGHTMARE FROM WHICH I AM TRYING TO AWAKE."
The volume of comments on Ebert post from Filipino readers reminds me of a shoal of fish swimming in circles and when a big fish approach to prey, they disrupt from their cylindrical formation. They have a tendency to crumble from their arguments when one big 'fish' disrupts them and prey on them. But this is a natural phenomena by nature. It seems that the big fish comes in the form of Mendoza who achieves a complete disruption of the equilibrium these people used to have. Now, they are appalled even faulted at the thought that a Filipino 'predator' manage to create such a massive atrocity which ironically launched Mendoza's stature to unbelievable heights of publicity (maybe in the web --- of course Hayden Kho is central to our lives today) and a first time this happened in Philippine cinema.
But i smell of a bigger fish at bay, he lurks behind Mendoza, Ebert, and the sad Filipino commentators of Ebert's post: this is the fish that crumbled most civilizations in history and even change the heart of Medieval age: DOGMATISM. To rely on certain dogmas is to forge hell in front of them, a cause of human degradation and the advent of puritanism. Dogma.
Dogmatism is not a philosophical concept because it is sick to treat it as a systematic conceptual framework of thoughts and idea. One famous dogma of science during 1500s tortured the thoughts of Galileo Galilei for formulating that the moon has craters and by postulating the all bodies fall at the same rate when drop at the same height. The Medieval church says it heresy. God forgive them.
What faces us here, and i am not pointing to Ebert's assertion or some comments from his readers or anyone else, is a historical question and also a question to ask oneself: Is it heresey for Mendoza to create a film that disturbs some people to their primal senses? We might think it is fault but let the magic time unfold and maybe after two hundred years Kinatay might be considered as the prerequisite to a portion of one's history, if not in cinema, that has evolved to its maturity. We might not know but we have to note, if not to avoid, the dogmatism attached to the issue, that this dogmatism by historical standards is invalid at the time we uttered the words: it is the worst film of all, do not watch it my friends. It's demonic. It's purely evil.
Such mentality is least appreciated in film criticism and even in art criticism. Theorist of literature have proved that works from the 1800s have been historical variable and for each generation, one may see it the other way around. To put Kinatay, or other 'ultra-anti-audience films' like Pasolini's infamous Salo (1975), in history is to treat it with respect, as much as people disrespect it.
Human beings have evolve surely. TO subscribe to this fruitless dogmatism and to avoid the variability of art reception to history is to be medieval. We are in the twenty-first century where the very fabric of every human thought and the whole of the universe is a series of QUESTIONABLE and FALSIFIABLE CONCEPT. Even our existence is a questionable concept.
Did i subscribe to dogmatism in writing this post? YES, I did.
I am a medieval person.