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Brillante Mendoza was born in 1960 in San Fernando, in the Pampanga province of the Philippines. He studied fine arts and advertising at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and began his career as a production designer for films, television and theater. He made his directorial debut with The Masseur (2005) and his subsequent films won over both critics and festivals, screening in Cannes, Venice and Berlin. Kinatay (2009) won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival.