Quantcast

Editorial

Cinematic patrimony


The biggest cause for celebration in the Philippine film industry this year is not the yearend Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) and its slew of unabashedly commercial, unabashedly illiterate entries, but the establishment of the National Film Archives of the Philippines. The NFAP got its inaugural last September when the digitally restored copy of Manuel Conde’s 1950 classic “Genghis Khan” was shown. During the occasion, President Aquino witnessed the formal turnover to the Philippines of the original prints of Conde’s movie from the Venice Film Festival archives.

It was in 1952 when Conde’s movie was shown in competition in Venice where it earned acclaim and offers for worldwide distribution, including one from the old United Artists, the Hollywood studio established by Charlie Chaplin, Lilian Gish and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Since the movie was the first Filipino feature to compete in a major international film festival, it is only fitting that its digital restoration via prints retrieved from the vaults of the world’s oldest international film festival should herald the NFAP six decades later.

The NFAP has been a long time coming. Between the 60 years when Conde’s movie became the toast of world cinema and the NFAP’s foundation, Philippine cinema has had two golden ages (1950s-1965 and mid-1970s to early 1980s), produced a world master (National Artist Gerardo de Leon Jr.), an Asian neorealist (Lino Brocka) and a Cannes best director (Brillante Mendoza), while witnessing the rise and decline of one of the top five industries in the world (along with Hong Kong-Taipei, Bollywood, Hollywood, and Europe).

Now that that commercial industry is in intensive care and, as the asinine MMFF entries show year in and year out, in protracted artistic coma, it is with some irony that the movement for film conservation should show signs of health. But the development is not surprising since it is usually in troubled times that people long for nostalgia. Philippine cineastes and denizens of the bankrupt film industry hark back to glory days. And Conde’s “Genghis Khan” should be one of the high points of those days. To make the glory linger, to make it perhaps permanent—that may be the task of the NFAP.

Conde is described by film scholar Nicanor Tiongson as the father of Philippine indie filmmaking for being the first to successfully produce his own movies outside of the studio mainstream. He wrote and directed the movies he produced, acted in them, even doing the menial jobs of a production assistant, the first instance in Philippine film history of multitasking. He could have also done archiving himself except that there was no prevalent consciousness yet during his time on cultural heritage in celluloid.

Film conservation in the Philippines has largely been a private initiative. An example would be the late Fernando Poe Jr.’s forward-looking vision of archiving and preserving the movies that his independent outfit had produced, providing an example for practical, cheap methods of film conservation for others to emulate. Other early initiatives to preserve the nation’s film heritage were the establishment of the Society of Film Archivists (Sofa) in 1993, with the late critic Hammy Sotto as moving spirit, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines starting its own video library through the efforts of Vicky Belarmino, a Sofa member.

Before the digital restoration of “Genghis Khan,” the ABS-CBN Archives, which may be the largest in the Philippines, had teamed up with Central Digital Lab to restore Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” and Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata.” Even private groups abroad are helping save and restore Philippine cinematic gems. “Genghis Khan” itself was digitally restored at the world-renowned laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy. And Italian-American cinematic master Martin Scorsese’s World Film Foundation has pledged to restore Brocka’s “Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.”

Government should have done it long ago, but alas, as the very surprising presence of Aquino during the “Genghis Khan” turnover should show—it was his first attendance at a cultural gathering as President, after having been in office for already a third of his term—the state has historically neglected anything remotely connected with the arts and culture. But better late than never. Through the efforts of Briccio Santos of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the President has signed Administrative Order No. 26 which enjoins all agencies, departments and offices under the executive branch (including government-owned and-controlled corporations) to transfer their collections to the NFAP, which will now serve as the country’s official repository of audio-visual material. Now the nation has an institution to preserve its cinematic patrimony systematically.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=43607

Tags: editorial , film preservation and restoration , national film archives of the Philippines , Philippine film industry



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Obama rejects notion that trade deal is in danger
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • Grenade explodes outside MPD Station 1
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace