Serbis Official Trailer
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Apparently the most controversial film in this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Filipino movie ‘Serbis’ was in competition for the Palme d’Or Award. ‘Serbis’ was written by Armando ‘Bing’ Lao and directed by Dante ‘Brillante’ Mendoza.
A rural family decides to run a prostitute service based in a fake theater in Angeles, Pampanga. The theater shows dated sexy double-feature films. The old building also serves as the residence of the family. Nanay Flor serves as the matriarch of the movie house while her family serve as her employees. Her daughter Nayda, son-in-law Lando and adopted daughter Jewel take turns in manning the ticket booth and canteen. Her nephews Ronald and Alan also help in the family business as a projectionist and billboard painter respectively.
Nanay Flor files a bigamy case against her husband but loses the case and feels betrayed when her own son testifies in court in favor of his father. Alan, financially unprepared for marriage, feels burdened by the fact that his pregnant girlfriend wants him to marry her. Nayda is torn between her commitment to her husband and her attraction to her cousin Ronald.
Unknown to the family, aside from movies, there’s another kind of business going on inside the theater. The movie house also serves as a den for “serbis” boys (male prostitutes) who offer sexual services to gay patrons for a price.
Jaclyn Jose, Gina Pareño, Dan Alvaro, Julio Diaz, Coco Martin, Kristofer King, Mercedes Cabral
Brillante Ma Mendoza
The film caused a stir in the Philippines with its unbearably loud ambient noise and its graphic and seemingly gratuitous depiction of sex and nudity. Submitted to theMovie and Television Review and Classification Board for public exhibition in 2008, the movie survived with two major cuts to sex scenes and was rated an R18.
Such was the advance international buzz of the film that it was invited to compete at Cannes Film Festival, being the 3rd entry from the Philippines (following the films of movie greatLino Brocka, Jaguar and Bayan Ko: Kapit Sa Patalim. Its premiere there was marked by the walking out of several veteran film critics who protested Mendoza’s version of “misery porn.”
On 30 January 2009, the film was premiered in New York. Writing for the New York Times, its chief film critic Manohla Dargis described the film: “The heavenly bodies that populate our films bring their own pleasures … alighting onscreen as if from a dream. But the bodies in [‘Serbis’], which received little love at the 2008 Cannes, are not heaven-sent, but neither are they puppets in a contrived nightmare. Rather, they lust, sweat, desire and struggle with the ferocious truth.”
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