With its depiction of cruelty and woe, Florentina Hubaldo, CTE is one of Diaz’s darkest films, the third of a trilogy about trauma and its aftermath (after Death in the Land of Encantos and Melancholia).The title character is a woman held captive by her father who has forced her into a life of prostitution. Her story is intertwined with that of a couple of fortune hunters digging for buried treasure in a narrative scheme that is revealed only gradually. With chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) a progressive degenerative disease found in individuals who have received multiple head injuries, the film’s title becomes a diagnosis of the physiological reasons for Florentina’s mental decline. She herself is clearly an allegorical stand-in for the long-suffering Filipino people. The film’s brutality is a cry of anger at 300 years of colonial plunder and misrule. Continue reading
“Insiang” is Lino Brocka’s tale of one girl’s coming of age in the slums of Manila. The title character, played by Hilda Koronel, is a young girl who lives in a small crowded shanty with her mother, Tonia (Mona Lisa). Her boyfriend Danny (Rez Cortez) treats her little better than a sex object and her mother’s lover Dado (Ruel Vernal), overcome by desire for young Insiang, rapes her in her own home. She runs to her mother for sympathy but gets rejected instead. Disillusioned and worn out, Insiang decides on revenge.
“Insiang” has the distinction of being the first Filipino film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, where both Lino Brocka and Hilda Koronel garnered much attention and acclaim from the international film community. The film also earned a number of important awards and nominations including the Manila Film Festival Best Actress Award for Koronel. Continue reading
In the year 2050, the Philippines braces for the coming of the fiercest storm ever to hit the country. And as the wind and waters start to rage, poets wander the streets.
Lav Diaz, who just won the Berlinale Silver Bear for his 8-hour film Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), will be in competition with the world premiere of his 16-minute short film Ang araw bago ang wakas, in which passages from Shakespeare are recited by ordinary people on the backdrop of a nocturnal city in the Philippines that’s bracing for a raging tempest. Continue reading
One day, they just disappeared. Just like that. One didn’t go to work, one didn’t go to his appointment, didn’t meet his date. The dishes served were left to rot, and the bed remained immaculate; the sheets unruffled and unslept in. One cannot say if they are alive or dead. And for this reason, there is no funeral, no nine-day wake, no mass, no burning of candles, or recitation of litanies for the dead. Because they are not dead (or maybe there are), and who is to know what has become of them?
What can a family do if someone disappears in a dictatorship? You can’t go to the police for help or information. Many families were affected in this way by the cruelty of the Marcos dictatorship (1972-1986). The film shows one of them as an example of paradise lost. Continue reading
Three sisters live in a paradise where men are metaphorically and literally serpents of temptation. Their father takes his three daughters deep into the woods, far from the nearest town. He dies, leaving the girls educated enough to read from the Bible, ignorant enough to allow men to take advantage of them. Continue reading
Synopsis: The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned. Ferdinand E. Marcos announces Proclamation No. 1081 putting the entire country under Martial Law. Continue reading
Lino Brocka’s films combine popular melodrama, political import, and intense realism with a vivid, economical style. Made on impossibly low budgets on the fringes of the Philippine film industry, his movies have an urgency and immediacy that spring both from Brocka’s burning ideological commitments (he was one of the most outspoken critics of the Marcos regime) and his resourceful, imaginative approach to the exigencies of borderline production. Set in the Manila slums, this 1976 effort is centered on a teenage girl struggling to stay afloat in the overwhelming, dehumanizing poverty that surrounds her. Her mother, who operates a tiny fish market, takes in a local hood as a lover, but the thuggish pretty-boy is clearly more interested in Insiang. After he rapes her (in a single-take sequence astonishing in its curtness and brutality), Insiang plans her revenge–a revenge that is also a revolution against the unseen government that endorses the system of exploitation. With Hilda Koronel. Continue reading