Indie film ‘Bitter Melon’ now available on home video

Director H.P. Mendoza: Film is loosely based on his Filipino family.

After its 2018 theatrical release, domestic violence dark comedy ​“Bitter Melon” ​ hits home video for ​Domestic Violence Awareness Month ​ and ​Filipino American History Month starting October 1. It is also available for pre-order.

Written and directed by San Francisco filmmaker H.P. Mendoza, ​“Bitter Melon” ​ follows a Filipino family who takes the law into its own hands by plotting to murder the physically and emotionally abusive member of the household.

After its festival run, the film was picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures and released theatrically on the Christmas of 2018 to match holiday themes of the film. Now, Mendoza hopes to reach a new audience by finally releasing the film on home video in October, a month that has significance for multiple reasons.

“I started writing ‘Bitter Melon’ in 1997, three years after I’d come out to my family as a gay man,” says Mendoza in his Director’s Statement.  “It was a wacky script that explored the cycle of domestic violence that existed in my family, both in the Philippines and in San Francisco, prompting people to ask me why I felt the need to laugh at these experiences. I’d say: I need to laugh at them. Because if I don’t, I’ll cry.”

“The film resonates with both survivors of domestic abuse and Filipino Americans, so just imagine what a shock the film must be for Filipino survivors of domestic abuse. I primarily made this movie for them since it’s loosely based on my Filipino family’s history with domestic violence,” he said.

One of the actors is New York actor Jon Norman Schneider playing the pivotal role of Declan, the youngest son in the family. The Bronx-bred, Filipino American actor has appeared in numerous television shows, including  “30 Rock,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He was most recently hailed in a New York Times Critic’s Pick review of “Henry VI” citing his performance of the titular character as a “lovely, understated performance.”  He studied drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Said Mendoza, “I didn’t want to make a ‘spinach film,’ not a film that you have to watch because it’s ‘good for you.’ I wanted the themes of the film to be a bit of a Trojan Horse, presenting you with a relatable comedy and then having the issues of domestic violence sneak up on you.

Top photo: New York actor Jon Norman Schneider (center) plays youngest son Declan. Below, Patrick Epino as Troy. Themes of toxic masculinity, homophobia, and domestic violence.

Domestic violence is just one part of the movie, he said.

“I think it’s no different from my other films where I explore identity, but in this case I’m scrutinizing masculinity in its many forms. It’s my only screenplay that doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, and for good reason. It’s a movie about how men treat women.”

Funded by Cinematografo, an initiative of ABS-CBN to finance Filipino American films, the “​Bitter Melon” Special Edition ​ arrives on BluRay and DVD with seven deleted scenes, a director’s commentary, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and the full music video, “Wind Chime” written and performed by H.P. Mendoza.

Placing on over a dozen “Best of” lists in 2018, ​“Bitter Melon” ​ has been hailed by Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times as “absorbing,” and “an indie masterpiece” by Tim Sika of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

For a list of retailers (including carrying the ​Bitter Melon Special Edition ​ BluRay and DVD, visit ​​. The movie is also available to watch on most Digital HD platforms including iTunes and Amazon Prime.

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