Manila in the Claws of Light
1975. The Philippines. Lino Brocka. 124 min.
Introduced by Lily Gamboa
Saturday, November 9, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Theater 2 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2), T2
Manila in the Claws of Light
1975. The Philippines. Directed by Lino Brocka. Screenplay by Clodualdo del Mundo, based on the novel by Edgardo Reyes. With Bembol Roco, Hilda Koronel, Rafael Roco Jr., Lou Salvador Jr., Tommy Abuel, Lily Gamboa, Jojo Abella, Juling Badabaldo. Lino Brocka’s Maynila is a haunting, beautiful landmark of Filipino cinema, and it is thanks to the inimitable Pierre Rissient that it was potentially saved from oblivion. He writes, “There are undoubtedly a few people left who still remember that day in Cannes 1978 when rumors started circulating about a small, low budget film from the Philippines. A ‘dirty’ film, as some claimed, once more proving Lu Xun correct when he observed that while some art might originate in the sewer, it can be so full of passion that it goes as deep as tragedy. And perhaps even further, because Lino was one of the most physical filmmakers that cinema has ever had. A true fireball, he moved insatiably from one set to rehearsals of Larawan in Fort Santiago where he directed a very dedicated group of actors, then onto a TV set where he would shoot a TV show in addition to a film as good as A Streetcar Named Desire. He possessed a remarkable vitality that was expressed fully in the large demonstrations he organized against Marcos’s regime. With the money he made with his commercial films he bought some sophisticated sound equipment that allowed him to cover the entire Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Manila’s massive north to south transportation corridor. Lino knew all the arteries of this swarming city, and he penetrated them just as he penetrated the veins of the outcasts in his films. Sometimes a vein would crack open and bleed. And that blood oozed on the screen with Insiang, Jaguar, Bona, Bayan Ko (My Country), all of which were shown in Cannes. And then, just like that, he died, in a stupid, easily avoidable car accident…. Still, when you watch Manila, you’ll be burned by a flame that never goes out.” A pariah of the Marcos regime, Lino Brocka entrusted Rissient with the film’s original camera and sound negatives, and for more than three decades, the materials were safeguarded by the BFI National Archives. Now, in 2013, we can celebrate an urgently needed digital restoration. Restored in 2013 by the World Cinema Foundation and the Film Development Council of the Philippines at Cineteca di Bologna/L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with LVN, Cinema Artists Philippines and Miguel de Leon. Digital projection. In Tagalog; English subtitles. 124 min.
In the Film exhibition To Save and Project: The 11th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation
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