Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brocka, Bernal on DVD and the NY Times

Finally.

Someone has seen the need to bring Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal's films to the age of DVD. Tony Gloria of
Unitel/Unico Entertainment deserves praise for spearheading the transfer of a number of Brocka/Bernal movies, and the few other vintage Filipino titles it could find from the Sampaguita and Regal vaults, to the new format, and thereby give the rest of us the chance to appreciate these long-lost gems.

The way we've managed to preserve our cinematic heritage is nothing short of criminal. Of the 55 films that Brocka directed, for instance, only 5 are said to be in a "projectable state."


Where did I get that fact? From the New York Times, no less. Apparently, Pinoy film lovers aren't the only ones hungering and pining for local cinema to be accorded the respect it deserves--by way of simple preservation of its best films, for starters--as an irreplaceable part of our cultural patrimony. Dave Kehr, the DVD film critic of the Times, does, too.

Mr. Kehr, in the Times' Oct. 10 issue, celebrates the release on DVD (through Unico's online retail site Cinefilipino.com) of "two enduring classics," Brocka's "Ina, Kapatid, Anak" and Bernal's "Manila By Night" (he quotes critic Noel Vera on the latter film), while mourning for "the other, less celebrated directors of this financially impoverished but creatively rich national cinema" whose works may never come to light again.

"Where now to find the work of Ishmael Bernal, Mario O’Hara, Mike de Leon and the other filmmakers from this fascinating two-decade period [1970-1990], during which a broadly popular cinema of sex and soap opera transformed itself into a vehicle for strong social commentary and a political force to be reckoned with?," he asks. (I have to add the name of Danny Zialcita, director of many a witty, byzantine Viva melodrama in the '80s, whose films deserve a new audience).

"Here’s hoping that Cinefilipino is able to continue its project," says Mr. Kehr. "This body of work belongs not only to the history of popular art but also to the history of a resilient, heroic, admirable people."

(Read Mr. Kehr's complete article
here.)

If I were the Film Academy of the Philippines, I would forget about throwing money (never mind prestige) on its annual orgy of schmaltz known as the Luna Awards, and instead buckle down to work on a more important task: find ways to preserve, restore and redistribute copies of Filipino films, which are its only--and now fast-disappearing--reason for being.

PLUS: What happened to the 1941 b&w classic "Ibong Adarna?" Read the story here.

10 comments:

beektur said...

What a whiner this Kehr is, no. (Ikaw din) Di pa nakuntento. He (and no doubt tens of Pinoys) should be thankful enough for these grainy, terrible-audio DVD transfers. What other worthy movies are you referring to anyway? The in-your-face confrontational socio-political movies of Brocka? Not relevant anymore. The -al movies of Diaz-Abaya (Karnal, Brutal, Moral, Senswal)? Trash. Gallaga's earlier outputs? Kitsch. Bernal's women films? Exploitative. The one hit wonders of Pio De Castro and Abbo dela Cruz? Ho-hum. Better spend attention on Mel Chionglo and Lamangan. They ARE pinoy cinema. True and certified correct.

watson said...

Incidentally, I was at SM Makati yesterday looking for an old Darna film I saw weeks before that was available on DVD. It was no longer available! Sayang.

I once saw a documentary on New Year celebrations. There was this shop that was using rolls of film to make trumpets. And these films were the Filipino movies of old! Heritage lost because of very limited opportunities to make money. Why didn't they just sell the movies to collectors? Perhaps it didn't occur to them that these may even sell more than the trumpets they make.

patrick said...

i gotta have copies of my own.

Anonymous said...

or...better yet....where are the zialcita, gosengfiao, borlaza, and caparas movies?????

i chanced upon your blog man.... you write very well. hope we can have coffee sometime.

a fan. - Dave

PhilippinesPhil said...

Beektur, your cold man. You from NYC? I probably mostly agree with you, but still...

gibbs cadiz said...

haha, ayan beektur, they think you're being bitchy and all. inside joke, folks, me and beektur have this, ah, fascination for the cinema of lamangan, chionglo et al. so do take beektur with a dash of irony. :)

ey watson, so that must be what jessica z. must be referring about in her 'torotot' post. :)

thanks for dropping by, patrick. :)

davedavedave. a fan? hehe. :)

gibbs cadiz said...

ey watson, wait, nawindang ako sa sinulat ko. editor pa daw! :) can't let it pass. 'so that must be what jessica z. was referring TO in her torotot post.' there!

ie said...

i think the biggest problem of the current philippine cinema is this: it's too preoccupied with gaining profit. tell them that imitating brocka will make them sell, and by God, brocka-ic films will abound.

nakakainis, dahil sa totoo lang, we're at lost. the philippine film industry is too afraid of risking, of believing that an intelligent local audience still exists, and of looking at the bigger picture.

ha ha, sensya, naglament na ako dito.

watson said...

Wahahaha inedit mo pa. Really, Jessica Z. wrote about it? It was really sad when it was shown on TV. What they do to numerous irreplaceable films for a few coins.

Our film heritage... gone in a few trumpet hoots.

RonTab said...

Oops, Lamangan fan pala kayo. Lately kasi dami na nyang nagawang 'could've been so much better if he only paid attention to details'. Sana marami pang filipino films ang mapreserve, ma re-record and distributed, regardless of your own opinion on the director's work.

Pwede ba palitan na yang mtrcb na yan? a more liberal group of people should be doing their jobs there. Let henry sy simmer in his own fat when all kinds of film resurface for its new audience.

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