Passions run hot in the slums of Manila, where poverty, hunger, and lust lead to acts of desperate brutality. Following on a successful 2013 theatrical run of Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light (1975), MoMA presents a weeklong run of Brocka’s Insiang (1976), another restored landmark of Filipino cinema that recently premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Shot under extreme pressures of time (roughly 11 days), money, and government censorship, Insiang has lost none of its political urgency or vitality. Brocka, the Philippines’ most internationally celebrated filmmaker working within—and against—the Marcos dictatorship, masterfully fuses documentary realism with classic melodrama to chart the fate of one teenage girl, the beautiful and waifish Insiang (Hilda Koronel), who becomes hardened and vengeful after her boyfriend abandons her to the predatory sexual advances of her mother’s lover. The rivalry between the shrewish matriarch (1930s star Mona Lisa) and her impressionable, cunning daughter is chilling in its violent narcissism. Insiang was restored in 2015 by Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata, with funding provided by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and the Film Development Council of the Philippines. This weeklong run is a prelude to the November opening of To Save and Project: The 13th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film.