An intimate epic made with uncompromising and austere seriousness, Lav Diaz’s “Evolution of a Filipino Family” patiently and methodically observes the collapse and hopeful revival of a poor farming clan, meant to symbolize a nation’s history spanning 1971 to 1987. Ten-hour running time, radically slow pace and hyperminimalist mise en scene will excite international cinephiles at the most daring fests and showcases, which are the only conceivable venues outside of homevid. Continue reading Lav Diaz – Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino AKA Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004)
Lino Brocka’s “Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa” (Three, Two, One, 1974) shows the filmmaker’s versatility in the short form, working with various writers.
The first segment, Tony Perez’s “Mga Hugis ng Pag-asa” (Faces of Hope) has Jay Ilagan play Noni, a drug addict struggling in a drug rehabilitation center. And while the segment is generally considered to be the weakest of the three, it does feature cinematographer Romy Vitug’s fine monochromatic camerawork, and the startling image of Ilagan being shaved of all his hair (a shockingly traumatic sight when I first saw it at the tender age of nine).
Continue reading Lino Brocka – Orapronobis AKA Fight for Us (1989)
The history of cinema is the history of the tyranny of narrative films. The right of first refusal to anything worth committing to film belongs to the province of narrative films. Narrative films are what sells, here and elsewhere. Narrativization, it seems, is the handmaiden of capitalism. Young filmmaker Sherad Anthony Sanchez turns away from this corruption of cinematic art and kneels down at the tabernacle of the experimental. Through Imburnal, a 3-hour, 30 minute tour de force set in the sewers and shantytowns of Davao City, director Sanchez renews and defamiliarizes our received notions about what it depicts, in the process dismantling the predictable tendencies of narrative films, in the process reawakening our collective conscience and consciousness. Let the wounds reopen and fester again! Continue reading Sherad Anthony Sanchez – Imburnal (2008)
Macho Dancer is a 1988 Philippine film, directed Lino Brocka, which explores the harsh realities of a young, poor, rural gay man, who after being dumped by his American boyfriend, is forced to make a living for himself in Manila’s seamy red-light district. Based on a true story, the film frank depiction of homosexuality, prostitution, drag queens and crooked cops, porno movie-making and sexual slavery, and drugs and violence caused the Filipino government censors to order extensive edits of the film, forcing an uncensored edition to be smuggled out of the Philippines and shown to a limited number of international film festivals. This print is now part of the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art in New York [Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video. 1994. Raymond Murray] Continue reading Lino Brocka – Macho Dancer (1988)
`An entry in the Encyclopedia of Philippine Art published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines, offers a clue as to the genesis of this monumental movie. Two movies are mentioned: the first, I am Furious (Yellow), “a collage of events leading up to the 1986 EDSA [People’s Power Revolution] uprising ”, and its sequel I am Curious (Pink). Both titles are references to the movies I Am Curious (Yellow) and I Am Curious (Blue) by Swedish director Vilgot Sjömans which provoked controversy due to their sex scenes in the late 1960s. In Tahimik’s piece, “yellow” refers to the color that was to become the standard color for protests against the Marcos regime. Both these movies were later integrated as episodes in Why is Yellow at the Middle of the Rainbow? which, in turn, was to give rise to a new genre called ‘Never-ending docu’ at international festivals. Continue reading Kidlat Tahimik – Bakit dilaw ang gitna ng bahag-hari? AKA Why Is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow? (1994)
Jealousy and violence take center stage in this claustrophobic melodrama, a tautly constructed character study set in the slums of Manila. Lino Brocka crafts an eviscerating portrait of an innocent daughter and her bitter mother as women scorned. Insiang leads a quiet life dominated by household duties, but after she is raped by her mother’s lover and abandoned by the young man who claims to care for her, she exacts vicious revenge. A savage commentary on the degradations of urban poverty, especially for women, Insiang was the first Philippine film ever to play at Cannes. Continue reading Lino Brocka – Insiang (1976)
J. Hoberman, The Village Voice:
Set in a tiny Philippine village, the inimitable Kidlat Tahimik’s film focuses on a family that makes papier-mache animals to sell during the traditional Turumba festivities. One year, a German department store buyer purchases all their stock. When she returns with an order for 500 more (this time with the word “Oktoberfest” painted on them), the family’s seasonal occupation becomes year-round alienated labor. Increased production, however creates inflated needs. Soon, virtually the whole village has gone to work on a jungle assembly line, turning out papier-mache mascots for the Munich Olympics. Long before the town band learns to play “Deutschland Uber Alles”, the fabric of village life has been torn asunder. The ironies of capitalism on the margin – Coca-Cola ads amid the shanties and ancient rituals – make easy targets for Tahimik’s wit. But his sharp eye never makes him seem bitter. Here, as in Perfumed Nightmare, Tahimik demonstrates great affection for his subjects, without stooping to romanticism (1983 presumably; taken from the DVD). Continue reading Kidlat Tahimik – Turumba (1981)