Sapi

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    Sapi

    Directed by

    Philippines

    2013

    100 min

    • Filipino

    Horror

    Rio de Janeiro IFF

    With the rival station Philippine Broadcasting Channel (PBC) eating up the TV audiences' major share, Sarimanok Broadcasting Network (SBN) needs a miracle to stay alive in the competition. In these mad and fearful times, SBN's news team finds that documenting an actual spiritual possession would be their only hope.
    Tasked to head the documentary production is MERYLL FLORES, a trainee TV Executive producer, along with DENNIS MARQUEZ, the reporter. Needless to say, the success of the project will also secure their eventual promotion in the company. However, the miracle seems to evade Meryll's team.
    They go to distant places, schools, provincial areas, religious groups, and faith healers, just to cover the case of mass possession, but to no avail. They simply cannot find a single incident of possession. Worse, BARON VALDEZ, cameraman of the rival network PBC, is the one who was able to capture the isolated case of demonic possession that involved a high school teacher (Ruby).
    To fulfill her task, Meryll enters into a deal that is more profoundly horrifying than the harrowing scene of paranormal possession. To acquire the needed footage, she buys the outtakes of the Ruby possession case from Baron. But at the point where Meryll imagines to be the turning point of her new career, an exorcising reality dawns on her with a spiralling effect that mirrors the political system governing the TV network.

    Festivals

    Credits

    Cast
    Meryll Soriano
    Dennis Trillo
    Baron Geisler
    Screenplay
    Henry Burgos
    Cinematography
    Brillante Mendoza
    Jeffrey Dela Cruz
    Editing
    Kats Serraon
    Music
    Gian Gianan

    Director's Statement

    Just as we live by our own beliefs, we are confronted by many horrors as well, with the strongest ones able to transcend from our personal lives to the bounds of our family, work, and relationships. But what is even more dreadful is that we do not seem to be terrified of the horrors right in front of our eyes, but instead, we are preoccupied with frightening ourselves by what we cannot really see or prove.

    Sapi chronicles the haunted lives of the individual working for media, consumed by the pressure of TV ratings and network rivalries, and later obsessed with their coverage of a woman possessed by a spirit. It is a story of the people who do not just have a fervent faith in God, but recognizes Evil just as well. But more than being a multi character sketch, this is an essay of a culture severely dependent in a decaying mass media whose integrity is hereby put under scrutiny. While Sapi attempts to frighten and shock the audiences to an extent, my purpose as a filmmaker is less of leading the viewers to shut their eyes out of fear, but more of, hopefully, helping them open their eyes to the reality.

    Production
    CENTER STAGE PRODUCTIONS

    Press

    Incorporating handheld camera and a presumably intentionally unflattering lighting scheme, Mendoza and his co-cinematographer Jeffrey Dela Cruz create a world in which dread seems to hang heavy in the air at all times. The queasy visuals are perfectly in keeping with the filmmaker’s portrait of a sick society ruled by greed and yet at the mercy of nature (in the form of gargantuan snakes) and otherworldly terrors such as demonic possession.

    Tim Grierson, ScreenDaily

    Sapi moves a step beyond, into explicit horror-movie territory.

    Violeta Kovacsics, Cinema Scope

    Brillante Mendoza

    Brillante Mendoza

    Philippines

    Born in the Philippines in 1960, Brillante Mendoza is one of the leading authors in new Filipino cinema. After completing his studies at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, and beginning his career in the field of advertising, he made his debut in cinema, inaugurating an extremely prolific filmography and soon becoming a leading protagonist of international film festivals. His debut film THE MASSEUR (2005) won the video competition prize at the Festival of Locarno. His next film SUMMER HEAT (2006) was screened in the Extra section of the Rome Film Festival, and MANORO (2006) won the CinemAvvenire award at the Torino Film Festival. In 2007 he was in Cannes for the screening of FOSTER CHILD in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section, in 2008 for SERVICE and in 2009 with THE EXECUTION OF P, for which he won the award for Best Director. The Berlin Film Festival welcomed him in 2007 for SLINGSHOT, presented in the Forum section, and in 2012 for CAPTIVE. In 2015 he screened at Cannes IFF again with his film TAKLUB and again in 2016 with MA' ROSA, where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or.

    Selected Filmography