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Sunday, July 31, 2022
Saturday, May 21, 2022
In the chapter on tearjerkers, we cited a favorite ploy of the critics of Filipino movies who maintain that there are only two kinds of local photoplays, both of which make the audience cry -- one kind because it is so sad, and the other, because it is bad.
The drumbeaters of the native film industry, on the other hand, would like the movie-going public to believe that local photoplays are the best in Asia, and that they can compare favorably with European and American films.
The true picture of the local cinema probably lies in between the two extreme viewpoints: there are bad Filipino movies as there are lousy Hollywood and European pictures and there are good ones.
Film critic T.D. Agcaoili, now a member of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures, observes: "Despite the evidence of progress in the choice of story material, there are still debilitating influences on Filipino movies such as those exerted by writers of true-confession vernacular novels and comic books.
"One of the greatest setbacks in the development of Filipino film art", Agcaoili continues, "lies in the limitation of good imported films from Japan, Korea, India, Hongkong, Italy and France. We only see Hollywood films. It was only recently that we have been exposed to good European films."
The dominance of American or Hollywood films in the entertainment fare of Filipinos in the last 60 years has resulted in a false concept of the ideal way of life: a concept that is utterly false, for the way of life that Hollywood generally depicts in its films is not typical of American life. It is an escapist world, a carnival, a mardi gras of beautiful women, beautiful homes and beautiful life -- a life untouched by tragedy, or if ever, is, at the final fadeout, saved by miracles of coincidence and convenience.
Hollywood films have greatly influenced the views and attitudes of our moviemakers.
"American movies have made our producers dishonest", says critic Agcaoili. "They are unaware of, or unconcerned with Filipino life, with the world they live in. As a result, the basic element in art, even in film art, that of being indigenous or heterogenic, is lacking."
Agcaoili, of course, is not indulging in idle prattle.
Many of today's local movies are rehashes or outright copies of Hollywood horror movies, Westerns and the kung fu photoplays which seem to be the rage all over the world today.
Espiridion Laxa, former president of the Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association, on the other hand, bewails the prejudice of the intellectual segment against Filipino films.
"Since its birth six decades ago", Laxa declared, "the local movie industry has continuously suffered from the vestiges of colonial mentality sadly ingrained in some Filipinos who are avidly prejudiced against things made in the Philippines. It is no solace for us movie producers to know that many local industries, also suffer from a similar public prejudice against anything made here, but the film industry is the hardest hit by such prejudice.
This prejudice against local films, Laxa continued, is anchored on two allegations, namely: that the local films are of poor quality, and that they are mere or virtual imitations of foreign pictures.
But there are all sorts of critics, Laxa maintained, and they can be divided into the seeing and non-seeing critics. "The seeing critics" are those who see out pictures mainly for the purpose of finding faults therein. After viewing a movie, these critics issue a sweeping judgment against the movie, and to further stress their point, they would compare the quality of a local pictures filmed in 45 days at a cost of P150,000 with that of a foreign photoplay filmed in one year or more costing millions of dollars."
Such critics, Laxa maintained, are not only without a sense of proportion but are lacking mental honesty because the refuse to appreciate the ingenuity of Filipino moviemakers who sometimes produce low-cost pictures surpassing the quality as well as the box-office appeal of some high-cost foreign films.
"The non-seeing critics," Laxa went on, "are those who pillory the local films on the basis of what they hear from others or on the strength of their experience with movies of pre-war days."
Laxa's dander is up when he hears critics say that local Western and James Bond-type pictures are imitations of foreign films because, according to such critics, there are neither cowboys nor James Bondish agents in the Philippines.
"This is the height of absurdity," Laxa stressed. "There are already Filipino cowboys now tending cattle ranches in many parts of the Philippines and we have intrepid sleuths in our NBI, CIS and Metrocom agents."
Laxa cites the cowhands at the Canlubang farms, mounted on imported horses and, before martial law, carrying their guns Texas style.
But even granting for the sake of argument that some local pictures look like imitations of foreign films, Laxa said, local pictures should not be summarily dismissed for two reasons: firstly, we do not criticize the Hollywood producers for imitating the James Bond series, which are British productions, and secondly, there is no denying the fact that critics in this country 'are all praises for Shakespearean and Broadway plays staged in the Philippines, plays which are un-Filipino in flavor and concept.' It is ironic that those who accuse the local movie producers as imitators are great imitators themselves because they speak, dress up and behave like Americans."
But granting Laxa's argument, there is something valid in the plaint against local movies that one can hardly distinguish between comedies from tragedies. This is so the (supposed tragedies) films are so heavily freighted down with heartbreak stuff that they become comic. The comedians, on the other hand, become tragedians because of the prevailing belief on the part of our filmmakers that while the moviegoers love to laugh, they also go the cinema house to have a good cry. Most of Dolphy's films are guilty of this ambiguity of characterization.
But there is a silver lining in the dark clouds formed by lousy Philippine movies.
Of late, there have been attempts by some moviemakers to produce pictures that may be the start of a new cultural consciousness. TINIMBANG KA NGUNI'T KULANG, a superlative photoplay written and directed by Lino Brocka, one of the finest megmen in the country today, is one such attempt.
Thursday, May 19, 2022
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Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Friday, May 13, 2022
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Wednesday, May 11, 2022
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Monday, May 9, 2022
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Saturday, May 7, 2022
No less than the First Lady, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, graces this year's (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) FAMAS awards presentation held last April at the Coral Ballroom of the Manila Hilton as guest speaker.
The practice of giving awards to producers, directors, actors and actresses, and technicians was unthinkable in the early days of Philippine movies. This was because movie people then were considered second-class citizens.
Today, even the AFP civic organizations give awards to deserving movie personalities. In recent search for The Outstanding Women of the New Society (TOWNS), two actresses -- Boots Anson-Roa and Rosa Rosal were chosen. Boots was picked for her contribution in the field of arts while Rosa was singled out for her charity work.
Within a few years after the first all-Pilipino movie (DALAGANG BUKID) was released in 1919, the various periodicals began to recognize the circulation-boosting power of movie write-ups Movie magazines started to proliferate, with the Literary Song Movie setting the trend.
A few years before the war, the Literary Song Movie Magazine, the Philippines Herald and other publications conducted popularity contests to choose the King and Queen of Philippine Movies. But it was not until after the war that more substantial forms of recognition were given to the movie industry and the people in it.
Maria Clara Awards
In 1950, the defunct Manila Times Publishing Col. established the Maria Clara Awards, an institution patterned after the annual Oscar Awards of the American Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) of Hollywood. The primary purpose of the Maria Clara Awards was to encourage the production of quality movies in the Philippines and to spur local movie personalities to greater achievements.
In the very first Maria Clara Awards, several producers, pictures, directors, actors, actresses and technicians vied with each other to win the bronze Maria Clara statuette by Guillermo E. Tolentino, the country's top sculptor.
The winners of the first Maria Clara Awards were: Narcisa Buencamino Vda. de Leon, producer of the year; Premiere's KAMAY NI SATANAS, best picture; Nena Cardenas, best actress for her performance in DOBLE CARA, a Premiere's film; Reynaldo Dante, best actor for his performance in KAMAY NI SATANAS;
Sampaguita's Higino Fallorina, best cinematographer, for BAGUIO CADETS; Lebran's Charles Gray, best sound recoroding; and Royal Production's Mila Nimfa, best child star, for NANAY KO.
In 1951, the judges in the Maria Clara Awards were Narciso Pimentel, Jr., chairman; Sarah K. Joaquin, Alejandro R. Roces, Wilfredo Guerrero, and Prof. Ramon Tapales, members.
By 1952, another institution patterned after Hollywood's AMPAS took over the task began by the founders of the Maria Clara Awards. This was the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS). It's current president is Romeo J. Arceo.
The Philippines sent entries to the eight-nation Asian Films Festival which was launched in 1954.
In 1954, Sampaguita's Luciano B. Carlos captured the best screenplay award for his work in ANG ASAWA KONG AMERICANA. The following year, the Philippines garnered five statuettes in the Asian filmfest when IFUGAO, a Premiere film, romped away with the best picture, best direction (Gerry de Leon), best actor (Efren Reyes), and best screenplay (Ding de Jesus) prizes while DAKILANG HUDAS won for Boy Soriano the best child actor trophy.
The year 1956 was another banner year for Philippine entries in the Asian filmfest. Rogelio de la Rosa copped the best actor award for his memorable performance in HIGIT SA LAHAT while Gregorio Fernandez snagged the award for best direction for his work in the same picture.
In 1957, BADJAO garnered four prizes, namely: best direction, Bert Avellana; best screenplay, Rolf Bayer; best photography, Mike Accion; and best editing, Gregorio Carballo.
The Asian filmfest was held in Manila for the first time in 1958. the Philippines romped away with three major awards: Romeo Vasquez, best actor, in AKO ANG MAY SALA; Rebecca del Rio, best supporting actress, in MALVAROSA; And Boy Planas, best child star, in DAY OF TRUMPET.
The Philippines laid a big fat egg in 1959 at the Sixth Asian filmfest held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Philippine debacle meant two things: while other countries had progressed in their filmmaking, the Philippines had remained at a standstill, or had retrogressed.
Not one of the five 1959 entries (LVN's KUNDIMAN NG LAHI and VENGANZA; Sampaguita's CONDENADO and TALIPANDAS; and Premiere's WATER LILY) garnered any prize.
In 1961, the Asian filmfest was held in Manila for the second time. The Philippines won only one award -- a special one at that -- for MY SERENADE, an LVN picture, as the best musical.
For five years after that, the Philippines did not take part in the Asian filmfest, probably shaken by its three lean years.
In 1966, the Philippines again took part in the Asian filmfest -- this time in the 13th Asian filmfest held in Seoul, Korea. It won two prizes: a special award for MAN OF DESTINY (Iginuhit ng Tadhana), the controversial bio-photoplay of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, for portraying the life and times of an outstanding Asian leader, and for best sound recording which went to Zultana's GOLDEN BUDDHA, a colored potboiler starring Zaldy Zshornack and Perla Bautista.
In 1967, Charito Solis won the best actress award in the Asian filmfest held in Tokyo for her performance in DAHIL SA ISANG BULAKLAK.
In 1970, the Asian filmfest was rocked by a scandal when a Filipino juror exposed an irregularity in the voting procedure: the jurors of certain countries voted identically to make their entries win.
Since then, the Asian filmfest has been conducted on a non-competitive basis. The 1974 filmfest will be held in Taipei starting June 11, 1974. The local delegation will be led by Joseph Estrada, president of the Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association.
Another festival that gives due recognition to achievements of local movie folk is the Manila Film Festival which was started under the aegis of Mayor Antonio J. Villegas.
This year's Manila filmfest, which will be held in July, promises to be the biggest and most colorful in the history of Philippine Movies.
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Thursday, May 5, 2022
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
There's a current craze for horror photoplays, inspired, no doubt, by the international publicity spawned by Hollywood's THE EXORCIST.
Based on the controversial novel about demonic possession written by William Peter Blatty, THE EXORCIST, now breaking all international box-office records, is said to cause fainting and vomiting spells wherever it is shown in America because of its gripping scenes.
Selected local audiences who recently had the opportunity to view THE EXORCIST were impressed, but not extraordinarily moved by the movie. For one thing, there has not been a single fainting or vomiting spell among Filipinos who have seen the movie.
This is not surprising because the Filipino moviegoer has always had a good dose of horror films produced locally. Straws in the dank wind of Filipino movie production has always shown an alarming boom in ghouls, vampires and other horrid creatures.
Indeed, what started as simple gothic films by the local movie pioneers six decades ago have spilled over into other aspects of Philippine life.
Radio stations that used to air nothing but soap operas and tearjerkers, air many programs exploiting shock entertainment. Tales of dark deeds and ghostly doings are now being dramatized over the airlanes - to the delight of youngsters and the growing consternation of their elders. What's more, even television is cashing in on the horror bonanza.
In 1960, the year of post-war demand for spooky movies started, about 20 horror photoplays were produced by Filipino moviemakers - all of them moneymakers.
The year before, three gothic films attracted long lines to the box office: GABI NG LAGIM, KATOTOHANAN O GUNI-GUNI? and PAGSAPIT NG HATINGGABI.
Before martial law was declared in the Philippines, local comic books specializing in horror and terror outnumbered the more sober publications. Horror Komiks, for instance, was crammed with episodes as Horace Walpole (whose novel, CASTLE OF OTRANTO, set the style for spook literature in the 18th century); Anne Radcliffe (a genteel woman who dreamed up shivery romances that earned her the title of Queen of Terror); Mary Godwin Shelley (wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelly and author of FRANKENSTEIN); Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER and other horror classics all of which have been converted into photoplays; and Bram Stoker, creator of COUNT DRACULA.
The first horror films, produced in the Philippines were TIANAK and ANG MANANANGGAL, both made by Jose Nepomuceno in 1926 and 1927 respectively.
In an interview with this writer shortly before his death in 1957, Nepomuceno said: "The setting of my horror movies were usually a desolate castle, a deserted manor house, or a haunted dormitory. My conventional props included clanking chains, underground dungeons and creaking coffins. Tiyanak, for example, had a bearded dwarf in the title role."
Filipino movie pioneers displayed their ingenuity in the production of horror movies.
In one scene in ANG MANANANGGAL, for example, Mary Walter and her fellow witches appeared hovering disembodied before a coffin. The actors and actresses who portrayed witches, therefore, were "shot" buried up to the waistline.
One of the classic horror films was DR. KUBA, an early talking picture, produced by Parlatone Hispano Filipino, and which starred Rosa del Rosario and Armando Villa (later to be known as Don Danon). This movie created a sensation when it was shown at the Lyric theater in 1933.
The first partial talkie in the Philippines - ANG ASWANG - produced by George P. Musser in 1932, was a horror movie.
Other pre-war movies that touch on the prepernatural were: KAMAY NA BAKAL, about the adventures and misadventures of an invisible man played by Jose Padilla, Jr; IBONG ADARNA, a picture filled with giants, multi-colored birds and enchanted castles; and PRINSIPE TIÑOSO, a take-off from the Arabian Nights theme.
After the war, Filipino moviegoers taking a cue from Hollywood, their nostrils ever aquiver for the public's moods, cranked out their own Frankensteins and Draculas, spider women, and wolfmen out of putty, crepe hair, and mountains of make-up.
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Sunday, May 1, 2022
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Wednesday, April 27, 2022
THE IMMIGRANTS (OR HOW LOCAL MOVIE FOLK ARE MAKING OUT IN AMERICA) (By Ricardo F. Lo, Expressweek Magazine, September 20, 1979)
Monday, April 25, 2022
Saturday, April 23, 2022
Thursday, April 21, 2022
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Sunday, April 17, 2022
HAS LLOYD TAKEN THE PLACE OF BOYET (AND/OR PIP) IN NORA'S HEART? (By R.F. Lo, Expressweek Magazine, October 4, 1979)
Friday, April 15, 2022
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
ANTHONY CASTELO: SINGING HIS WAY INTO THE LADIES' HEARTS (By W. Sandoval, Expressweek Magazine, August 24, 1978)
Monday, April 11, 2022
ANTHONY ALONZO: NEW HEIGHTS, NEW HOPES (By Ronald K. Constantino, Expressweek Magazine, October 4, 1979)
Saturday, April 9, 2022
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Thursday, April 7, 2022
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