The MMFF lineup this year might have us cringing over commercial’s films lack of substance. But does it mean that local cinema has died? Far from it. If you don’t take our word for it, maybe you should ask legendary Filipino auteurs Lino Brocka and Mike De Leon. They saw our indie circuit’s rise 32 years ago after all.
Yes, you read that right. The documentary where they foreshadowed the steady rise of our local cinema’s industry, Beyond the Mainstream, has been hibernating for over three decades. That was until the Betamax copy of it resurfaced as of recent.
According to Teddy Co, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts commissioner and one of the makers of this documentary, it’s a 48-minute documentary on the independent/alternative film scene from 1954 up to 1986. The documentary contains interviews with young legendary filmmakers and then amateur filmmakers who have now achieved local acclaim.
One of the most influential Filipino filmmakers, Lino Brocka and Mike De Leon, were one of the interviewees. And their accurate prediction on Filipino cinema today just proved their legendary status even more.
In the documentary’s brief interview with Lino Brocka, he foreshadowed that Philippine cinema’s future depended on the indie circuit. The “Citizen Jake” director Mike de Leon, on the other hand, prophesied digital filmmaking’s impact. He proved this with clips from his pioneering video film at the time, “Bilanggo sa Dilim.” This was shot on analog video back in 1986.
“Everyone was 32 years younger!” said Co on the filmmakers interviewed in this once-lost documentary. The other filmmakers who were featured were Kidlat Tahimik, Briccio Santos, Tikoy Aguiluz, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Doy del Mundo, Surf Reyes, Virginia Moreno, Pandy Aviado, Ricky Lee, Roxlee, Nick Deocampo, Alcazaren brothers, Dr. Uwe Schmelter, Lauro Rene Manda, Raymond Red.
BBC News tackled the rise of our local film industry back in 2013. They claimed “a shift is starting to take place in Philippine cinema as independent films made without studio backing begin to stake more of a claim.”
Philippine cinema is alive and kicking thanks to the local independent film industry’s steady rise. Arthouse films by Brilliante Mendoza and Lav Diaz have been darlings in Berlin and Cannes. With numerous local film festivals like Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals encouraging a new breed of Filipino filmmakers, the industry is in a good position right now, regardless of commercial films favored by government officials.
You can catch this once lost documentary at the Tanghalang Manuel Conde Dream Theater and the Main Gallery of the CCP this September 8, 3 pm.
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Photo from Inquirer.net