The occupiers are onscreen for only a few seconds. Martin focuses almost entirely on a small family, at first a mother (Agbayani) and son (Lucero) who, like many Filipinos under both the Spanish and the Americans, feel compelled to leave town for a less dangerous rural life.
They move into an abandoned hut adjacent to a lush tropical forest. The mother dies, and the family is now comprised of a more grown-up version of the son (same actor, now bearded and long-haired), the young woman called in the credits “the Stranger” (De Rossi) who had moved in with them after her ostensible rape by U.S. soldiers, and the very light-skinned boy (Aguilos) she gives birth to.
"Generically, Independencia is as melodramatic as they come. Besides the family narrative and the acting style, the music, as lovely as it is, is continuous, insistent, and frequently mournful, with horns, guitar, flute, violin, and cello accompanying or anticipating every element of what little plot exists.
On account of Martin’s political and formal strategies, most screen time is taken up by the routines of rural life and drastic changes in the weather. We are saved from boredom by the one character telling stories to the others, most of them based on mythology and superstition, and some fine sound effects, most notably the ongoing, high-volume sounds of insects and the river. True to the genre, nothing ends well."
"Kinatay" (meaning "massacre") notably features corrupt cops hacking a prostitute to pieces with blunt kitchen knives.
Mendoza, at Cannes for the second year running, again split the critics, drawing both hisses and applause for "Kinatay".
Last year's "Serbis" was set in a Manila porn-theatre with long close-ups of festering boils and overflowing toilets, as well as the poverty and distress on the streets.
Still determined to portray the social reality around him, Mendoza in "Kinatay" traces 24 hours in the day of a trainee policeman, happily beginning with his wedding in the morning to close with the young man's first outing at night with a band of corrupt colleagues.
To his surprise, fear and anguish, they pick up a prostitute accused of betrayal and wind up torturing, raping, killing and hacking her before disposing of the body parts across Manila.
"This is not just entertainment, these kinds of stories are real," Mendoza said at Cannes.
Last year was the first time since 1984 the Philippines had a film competing for the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d'Or.