Serbis: Brilliante Ma Mendoza’s Filipino Film

Brillante Ma Mendoza’s Serbis world premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Fest and later played at the Toronto and New York Film Fests.

Mendoza is a prolific auteur whose films, such as SLINGSHOT, FOSTER CHILD, PANTASYA, THE PROFESSOR, SUMER HEAT, and THE MASSEUR have captured the attention of audiences internationally.

SERBIS marked Mendoza as the first Filipino director since Lino Brocka to have a film in competition in Cannes Film Fest.

The Pineda family operates a run-down movie house in a city in the province, which shows dated sexy double-feature films. The family has taken up actual residence in the old building as well. The matriarch Nanay Flor, her daughter Nayda, son-in-law Lando, and adopted daughter Jewel take turns manning the ticket booth and the canteen. Her nephews Alan and Ronald are the billboard painter and projectionist respectively.

Nanay Flor had filed a bigamy case against her estranged husband and is attending the court hearing today when, after a number of years, the decision will be finally handed down. It is within the context that the story unfolds. As the rest of the members go about their daily activities, we get a glimpse of how they suffer and deal with each other’s sins and vices—relational, economic or sexual.

Alan, who is financially unprepared for marital responsibility, feels oppressed by his pregnant girlfriend’s demand of marriage. Nayda, who entered marriage out of tradition, is torn between marital fidelity and her ambiguous attraction towards her cousin Ronald. Nanay Flor, who loses the case, feels betrayed not only by the court judge but also by her son who testified in favor of his favor.

Preoccupied with their personal demons, the family is unmindful that inside the movie theater, another kind of business is going on between the “serbis” boys (male hustlers) and the gay patrons.

Regent Releasing will release “SERBIS” in LA and NY on January 16.