History Of Philippine Cinema

History of Philippine Cinema Matchmaker.com: Sign up now for a free trial. Date Smarter! History of Philippine Cinema Introduction The youngest of the Philippine arts, film has evolved to become the most popular of all the art forms. Introduced only in 1897, films have ranged from silent movies to talkies; black and white to color. Outpacing its predecessors by gaining public acceptance, from one end of the country to the other, its viewers come from all walks of life. Nationwide, there are more than 1000 movie theaters.

Early in the 1980s, it was estimated in Metro Manila alone, there were around 2.5 million moviegoers. As an art form, it reflects the culture and the beliefs of the people it caters to and most times, is the one who shapes their consciousness. Philippine film as discussed in this paper includes films made by Filipino people exhibited in this country and possibly in other countries from the 1930s to the 1990s. The films may be silent pictures or talkies, black and white or color. They also include films such as documentaries, animation, experimental or alternative films and other types of films.

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This paper has three purposes or objectives. It intends, first of all, to provide a comprehensible background of the art of film in the Philippines. It provides insights on how the Philippine film has influenced Philippine culture and vice-versa. This is done by documenting the important events and important films in the area of film for the past ninety years. Second, it intends to explain the different trends and styles common in the Philippine film. And finally, it concludes with an analysis on how two important events in history, namely World War II and Martial Law altered the course of contemporary Philippine film. However, this paper is limited to films only from the particular time period of the 1930s to the 1990s. It fails to give a picture of how films were like ever since it started in 1897.

This paper is also severely limited due to the unavailability and the lack of materials that discuss thoroughly the history of Philippine film. Film materials for those made during the pre-WWII years are simply non-existent. Data for this paper was gathered from the essays and reviews written by the artists and the critics themselves. It goes without saying that the resources were tested to the limits. CHAPTER 1 I. The 1930s to 1940s A.

Early Philippine Films Filipinos started making movies in 1919. However, it would be important to know that the film industry in the Philippines began through the initiative of foreign entrepreneurs. Two Swiss entrepreneurs introduced film shows in Manila as early as 1897, regaling audiences with documentary films lips showing recent events and natural calamities in Europe. Not only that but the arrival of the silent films, along with American colonialism, in 1903 created a movie market. But these film clips were still novelties. They failed to hold the audiences attention because of their novelty and the fact that they were about foreigners. When two American entrepreneurs made a film in 1912 about Jose Rizals execution, the sensation they made it clear that the Filipinos need for material close to their hearts.

This heralded the making of the first Filipino film. The credit of being the first Filipino to make a film goes to Jose Nepumuceno, whom historians dub as the “Father of Philippine Movies”. Nepumucenos first film was based on a highly-acclaimed musical play of that day, Dalagang Bukid (Country Maiden) by Hemogenes Ilagan and Leon Ignacio. In those early years of filmmaking, enormous capital was needed to keep up with the Hollywood industry. Despite its weak points, Hollywood provided the Philippine film industry with examples that the early filmmakers followed.

It is not surprising that many of those same genres set so many years ago still appear in contemporary Philippine films. But it was difficult to match Hollywood style in those days with the meager capital set aside for the developing film industry. Ironically, the same people who helped the film industry develop as a form of expression were the same ones who suppressed this expression. Early film producers included”wealthy Spaniards”, American businessmen and Filipino landlords and politicians. It is not surprising that..pre-war Philippine movies..were inhibited from expressing their views that might question the establishment and were encouraged instead to portray the love and reconciliation between members of different classes..

Starting with Dalagang Bukid, early films dug into traditional theater forms for character types , twists and turns in the plot, familiar themes and conventions in acting. This set the trend of Philippine films based entirely on immensely popular dramas or sarswelas . Besides providing ready materials, this device of using theater pieces ensured an already existing market. From the komedya of the sarswela, the typical Filipino aksyon movie was to develop. The line dividing the good and the bad in the komedya was religion with the Christians being the good and the Moors representing the bad.

In present movies, the line that divides the two is now law or class division. The sinakulo or the passion play was the root of the conventional Filipino melodrama. The Virgin Mary became the “all-suffering, all-forgiving Filipino Mother” and Jesus was the “savior of societies under threat and the redeemer of all those who have gone wrong”. Another source of movie themes was Philippine literature. Francisco Baltazar and Jose Rizal, through the classics for which they were famous, have given the industry situations and character types that continue to this day to give meat to films both great and mediocre. Finally, by the 1930s, a few film artists and producers dared to stray from the guidelines and commented on sociopolitical issues, using contemporary or historical matter.

Director, actor, writer and producer Julian Manansalas film Patria Amore (Beloved Country) was almost suppressed because of its anti-Spanish sentiments. This earned him the honor of being dubbed the “Father of the Nationalistic Film”. Its own share of movie audience and acclaim for local movie stars were signs that the movie industry from 1919 to the 1930s had succeeded. Despite the competition coming from Hollywood, the film industry thrived and flourished. When the 1930s came to a close, it was clear that moviegoing had established itself in the Filipino. B.

Wartime Films and the Effect on Philippine Films The Japanese Occupation introduced a new player to the film industry the Japanese; and a new role for film propaganda : “The Pacific War brought havoc to the industry in 1941. The Japanese invasion put a halt to film activity when the invaders commandeered precious film equipment for their own propaganda needs. The Japanese brought their own films to show to Filipino audiences.” The films the Japanese brought failed to appeal to audiences the same way the Hollywood-made movies or the locally-made films did. Later on, Japanese propaganda offices hired several local filmmakers to make propaganda pictures for them. One of these filmmakers was Gerardo de Leon.

The war years during the first half of the Forties virtually halted filmmaking activities save for propaganda work that extolled Filipino-Japanese friendship, such as The Dawn of Freedom made by director Abe Yutaka and associate director Gerardo de Leon..Less propagandistic was Tatlong Maria (Three Marias), directed in 1944, by Gerardo de Leon and written for the screen by Tsutomu Sawamura from Jose Esperanza Cruzs novel..Despite the destruction and hardships of the war, the people..found time for entertainment; and when movies were not being made or imported..they turned to live theater..which provided alternative jobs for displaced movie folk. The war years may have been the darkest in film history..” This period turned out to be quite beneficial to the theater industry. Live theater began to flourish again as movie stars, directors and technicians returned to the stage. Many found it as a way to keep them from being forgotten and at the same time a way to earn a living. In 1945..the film industry was already staggering to its feet.

The entire nation had gone through hell and there were many stories to tell about heroic deeds and dastardly crimes during the 3 years of Japanese occupation. A Philippine version of the war movie had emerged as a genre in which were recreated narratives of horror and heroism with soldiers and guerillas as protagonists..audiences still hungry for new movies and still fired up by the patriotism and hatred for foreign enemies did not seem to tire of recalling their experiences of war. Movies such as Garrison 13 (1946), Dugo ng Bayan (The Countrys Blood, 1946), Walang Kamatayan (Deathless, 1946), and Guerilyera (1946) , told the people the stories they wanted to hear: the heroes and the villains of the war. The war, however, had left other traces that were less obvious than war movies that were distinctly Filipino. As Patronilo BN.

Daroy said in his essay Main Currents in Filipino Cinema: “World War II left its scars on the Filipinos imagination and heightened his sense of reality..” CHAPTER II II. The 1950s to 1970s A. The Golden Age of Philippine Films The 1950s were considered a time of “rebuilding and growth”. But remnants from the preceding decade of the 40s remained in the form of war-induced reality. This is seen is Lamberto Avellanas Anak Dalita (The Ruins, 1956), the stark tragedy of post-WWII survival set in Intramuros. The decade saw frenetic activity in the film industry which yielded what might be regarded as the first harvest of distinguished films by Filipinos. Two studios before the war, namely Sampaguita Pictures and LVN, reestablished themselves.

Bouncing back quickly, they churned out movie after movie to make up for the drought of films caused by the war. Another studio, Premiere Productions, was earning a reputation for “the vigor and the freshness” of some of its films. This was the period of the “Big Four” when the industry operated under the studio system. Each studio (Sampaguita, LVN, Premiere and Lebran) had its own set of stars, technicians and directors, all lined up for a sequence of movie after movie every year therefore maintaining a monopoly of the industry. The system assured moviegoers a variety of fare for a whole year and allowed stars and directors to improve their skills. Critics now clarify that the 50s may be considered one “Golden Age” for the Filipino film not because film content had improved but because cinematic techniques achieved an artistic breakthrough in that decade.

This new consciousness was further developed by local and international awards that were established in that decade. Awards were first instituted that decade. First, the Manila Times Publishing Co. set up the Maria Clara Awards. In 1952, the FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) Awards were handed out. More so, Filipino films started garnering awards in international film festivals. One such honor was bestowed on Manuel Condes immortal movie Genghis Khan (1952) when it was accepted for screening at the Venice Film Festival.

Other honors include awards for movies like Gerardo de Leons Ifugao (1954) and Lamberto Avellanas Anak Dalita. This established the Philippines as a major filmmaking center in Asia. These awards also had the effect of finally garnering for Filipino films their share of attention from fellow Filipinos. B. The Decline of Philippine Film If the 1950s were an ubiquitous period for film, the decade that followed was a time of decline. There was “rampant commercialism and artistic decline” as portrayed on the following: In the 1960s, the foreign films that were raking in a lot of income were action pictures sensationalizing violence and soft core sex films hitherto banned from Philippine theater screens, Italian “spaghetti” Westerns, American James Bond-type thrillers, Chinese/Japanese martial arts films and European sex melodramas. To..get an audience to watch their films, (the independent) producers had to take their cue from these imports.

The result is a plethora of films..giving rise to such curiosities as Filipino samurai and kung fu masters, Filipino James Bonds and..the bomba queen. The studio systems came under siege from the growing labor movement which resulted in labor-management conflicts. The first studio to close was Lebran followed by Premiere Productions. Next came Sampaguita and LVN. The “Big Four” studios were replaced by new and independent producers who soon made up the rest of the film industry.

The decade also saw the emergence of the youth revolt best represented by the Beatles and the rock and roll revolution. They embodied the wanting to rebel against adult institutions and establishments. Certain new film genres were conceived just to cater to this “revolt”. Fan movies such as those of the “Tita and Pancho” and “Nida and Nestor” romantic pairings of the 50s were the forerunners of a new kind of revolution the “teen love team” revolution. “Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos, along with Tirso Cruz III and Eddie Mortiz as their respective screen sweethearts, were callow performers during the heyday of fan movies. Young audiences made up of vociferous partisans for Guy and Pip or Vi and Bot were in search of role models who could take the place of elders …