Mondo Cane is the legendary and cruel shockumentary by Gualtiero Jacopetti. Khavn sees his own Mondo in Manila. Jacopetti was an outsider; Khavn is a participant. The secret of Khavn is that he shows poverty and injustice in an almost cheerful way, making it even more awkward.
Life in the slums of large Third World cities has been filmed in many different ways, but never before was a musical made about it. Khavn De La Cruz has been involved since 2003 with a unique celebration of the lives of losers in the ghettos of Manila, the Filipino capital. Characters like the teenager Tony D and his depraved friends. There’s Lovely Loanshark, the gambling addict, a slum milker who's always screaming. Sgt. Pepper is a policeman and (to his great dismay) the father of only daughters and a gay son. There’s Steve Banners, the old white pederast, and Ogo X, the misformed rapper. Mondomanila got support from HBF a long time ago and was finally made with mainly private money. The film shows a colourful, occasionally almost glamorous but also violent, rancid and perverse society in the gutter, in flashy, fast-cut scenes, with absurd dialogues and bizarre events. Khavn shakes up film styles to his heart's content: exuberant video clips, grubby film noir, hyper-realistic documentary and even slapstick - linked by an original story and rousing music.
Programmer Note by Gertjan Zuilhof:
Khavn has a reputation for working quickly. Very quickly. There have been years that he shot seven films. Perhaps this film was also, ultimately, shot too fast, but Khavn started the Mondomanila project years ago. It is interesting to consider why it is precisely this film that has taken the hyper-productive filmmaker so long.
Khavn has submitted many an application to the Hubert Bals Fund; he may even be the most persistent filmmaker with the most applications. He sometimes even applied for multiple projects at the same time. And sometimes his requests were granted. Let that be a lesson to filmmakers who give up after a couple of attempts.
His first application in 2003 was for a project called Mondomanila. Khavn films are known to be re-titled sometimes and new projects are given old titles, but this is proof of the start of a film entitled Mondomanila and it took just under a decade to finish. Talk about perseverance.
The most probable explanation for the tardy completion of Mondamanila is that the film has basically been made before, in fact perhaps multiple times, but has been released under other titles, for instance Mondomanila: Overdosed Nightmare (2008). It’s clear the maker thought this attempt finally deserved its now almost mythical name.