Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday, December 19, 2009


From the working script:

A closer look at ANGEL's life, wind back to the beginning in escalating rhythmical operatic beats.
ANGEL ( V.O. )
'Pag may naririnig tayong violent incidents o kaya abusive treatments na isinasagawa ng mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak,ang madalas nating itanong "Anong klaseng magulang 'yan? Anong klaseng magulang kaya meron sila?" Minsan, iniisip ko rin,
" Ano kayang klaseng magulang meron si Hitler? Si Mother Theresa? Bakit kaya sila nagkaganon?"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Whatever role she was playing, no matter how small and stereotyped it was, Anita played it well.

Clips from the various films of screen legend Anita Linda - from her landmark portrayal of "Sisa" to her sensitive performance as "Adela." The video was for her Lino Brocka Lifetime Achievement Award during the Golden Screen Awards by the Enpress this 2009.

At the peak of her career, an actress more often than not acts like a primadonna, expecting everyone to commiserate with all her problems, from simple toothaches to crises of the heart and the pocketbook. She imagines that the world is indebted to her and she can afford to ignore everyone around her. As she ages and falls from fame, she either sulks like a child or hates the world or buries herself in self-pity. This was not the case with Anita Linda (Alice Lake in real life), an actress who rose to fame and was admired from 1947 to 1958. When she came back to the movies in the 1970's, her acting prowess had not tarnished, she projected no star complex, but instead had become even more professional in her attitudes towards the industry. For her, people in film should be absolutely dedicated both to the industry and to each other. She does not like stars who disrupt shooting schedules. She hates it when crewmen and extras are treated like menials, or when fellow workers in the industry are not justly compensated for their work. And she does not care if these views affect her own career, negatively or positively.

In 1952, she had just received the Maria Clara best actress award for her performance in Sisa and was reigning as top actress of Premiere Productions, when the company's crewmen went on strike. Luha sa Langit was being filmed then. Anita believed in the cause of the workers, so she and Patria Plata agreed to mediate for the workers who were led by Casimiro Padilla, a sound man. They presented the workers' complaints to Mrs. Santiago. The latter did not welcome the complaints. The two actresses were reprimanded, and the problem was solved when the company was closed down. Anita Linda's contract was dissolved as well.

Free-lancing was not permitted then. It was difficult for an actress to survive outside a mother company. People began to surmise that the actress' career was doomed. Anita prepared herself for the crash. If it should come, she was going to open a livestock farm in her lot in Pugad Baboy, Bulacan. Nevertheless, she approached Dr. Perez of Sampaguita Pictures. The latter had previously offered her a role in Tres Musketeras, which she could not accept because Mrs. Santiago did not allow her to. "I'll let you know soon, if there is a good role for you," was Dr. Perez's promise. Because of that answer, Anita gave up on LVN as well. She then went from one unstable company to the other, until she decided to rest awhile.

Time passed, Bomba pictures became popular. New names came up. Actresses of the 1950's and 60's were upstaged by the "bomberas." But an actress remains an actress, even if it seems that there is no more place for her in the industry. For she was at a very "awkward" stage in life. She was no longer young, but she couldn't play mother to Susan Roces or Amalia Fuentes either. Bomba pictures were out of the question.

So to television she went. It was in Lupita Concio's Balintataw that she first got to know young budding directors, like Lino Brocka, Mario O'Hara, Elwood Perez and Joey Gosiengfiao (these are only some of the directors who respected Anita). With the new generation of "young stars" of the 1970's, Anita came back to the movies as mother to Nora Aunor or Vilma Santos.

More time passed. The musicals of these young stars competed with the love-triangles of Eddie Rodriguez, the action movies of Fernando Poe, Jr., the comedies of Dolphy and other mixed film genres, until the young stars themselves turned into serious actors. Modes changed, but Anita stayed on. She played all kinds of mothers - the martyr, the bitch, the nagger, the swinger. But whatever role she was playing, no matter how small and stereotyped it was, she played it well.

But then giving life to these characters came easy for her, for she could draw from a wealth of personal experiences to understand these characters. She had known love and the hurts that came with it; joy and disappointment, like success and failure, were no strangers to her. She knew the pain of losing a first-born during the Japanese Occupation years, of being neglected by a husband, of seeing her confidante-sister killed before her eyes, and of being alone. All these happened when she reigned as movie queen. Whatever problem she had in life, she learned to resolve by pouring herself into her many roles. "Perhaps this is all I can do. I love my profession." Because of her versatility, her acting prowess is constantly put to the test, and often adjudged excellent. Aside from winning the Maria Clara Award, she has received the FAMAS Best Supporting Actress trophy in 1974, for her performance in Hello Soldier, one of three episodes in Brocka's Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa. She has been recognized as an outstanding actress by the PATAS as well, and has received a string of nominations from groups interested in quality performances.

For her contributions to the development of the Filipino film industry, for her professionalism, versatility, patience and perseverance, which have earned for her the respect of her colleagues in that industry, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino awards her its sixth Natatanging Gawad Urian.

(The above is the citation of the Manunuri for Ms. Linda's Natatanging Gawad URIAN in 1982.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The House of the Dead

Life in prison was so dreary, a convict is a creature by nature so eager for freedom, and from his social position so careless and reckless, that "to have his fling for all he is worth," to spend all his fortune carousing with noise and music and so to forget his depression, if only for the moment, naturally attracts him.
-from Fyodor Dostoevsky's "The House of the Dead"


Saturday, October 10, 2009



They were the stars of the golden era of Philippine cinema – discovered by the film studios, adored by their leading men, and idolized by their legions of fans.

Today, hardly anyone remembers the names. They are but fragments of a colorful past – a past filled with faded memories of youth, fame, and glory.

Their past will be remembered...


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have bled their documentary foundations into a mesmerically pure fiction style. Their films absorb us in a recognisable world, that nevertheless shows us ordinary things in a new way, makes us look again at what we thought we understood. Their four most recent films — The Promise (1996), Rosetta (1999), The Son (2002), and The Child (2005) — almost entirely reject some key conventions of fiction filmmaking (shot-reverse-shot, point-of-view shots, establishing shots, etc.) in favour of a close and empathetic form of film-thinking. These films use images to think about (and for) theircharacters — thinkings which steer the emotions of the filmgoer.

Perhaps most significant about these
four films is their movement away from ‘classical’ filmmaking forms, especially as regards point-of-view images and the traditional shot-reverse-shot. In 'The Son' the father tries to see into an office where details important to him are being discussed — the film aligns itself with him, squeezes a look at what he sees (half a desk, a hand, a pen), but without shifting to a point-of-view shot that denotes his actual seeing point, his ‘actual’ thinking. What we get is a thinking of his half-knowledge, through an obscured, fractured, half information image. What this means is that the four films do not break into their stories to try to replace their characters; they do not remove them from the film (by replacing them with a ‘view-point’). Importantly, we might say that the films do not presume to become their characters.

At the very beginning of 'The Son' the film, the moving sound-image, emerges from behind the father (moving up from darkness to reveal the back and then the neck and head of the father). We feel that the film derives itself from him, has lived with him, will live with him. The film thinks this close affinity, thinks (through framing and movement) this empathetic emotion. The film clings close to the father, tracing his neck and back and profile more than his face or locale. There is almost no space, no measurable distance between filmgoer/film and father. The film thinks an intense bond, creating a pure relationship between character and filmgoer. We begin to feel what he feels: tension, half-knowledge, anticipation. The film’s thinking doesn’t create an identification so much as an allegiance, a being-with. Through this closeness the films also enact a questioning thinking. The films watch Igor and Rosetta and Olivier and Bruno think, watch them make decisions, almost hears them decide. All of the films at some point ‘hold’ on each of them, studying their faces, questioning them, asking them ‘what are you going to do?’. The responsibility and conscience in both 'The Promise' and 'The Child'; the betrayal and enduring affection of the boy in Rosetta; the closing of distance between man and boy in The Son — each is unexpected for the protagonist. These are people who are unprepared for the humanity that won’t let them go.

In the cinema of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne the characters are accompanied, are followed and watched, by another consciousness, a new-consciousness, a filmind. This thinking is at one and the same time subjective and objective (it acts like another character, yet can occupy multiple spaces and shift from one time to another), in films that absorb the physical through (and into) the metaphysical. The ‘filmosophical’ thinking of these films is distinguished by their refusal to even attempt to ‘become’ the characters. The Dardennes resist these conventions of classical fiction filmmaking, and in doing so the films think with humbleness and respect. One person’s actions are never completely understandable; we can never become them to understand them, we must learn from what they do. Ethics resolves into a question of action: what do we do?

Each of the four films presents us with a filmind that is asking that for us, of a person, from a point of view we can never have: an omniscient, invisible, free mode of thinking.

Daniel Frampton is a London-based writer and filmmaker, and the founding editor of the salon-journal Film-Philosophy. This text is an extract taken from his recent book, Filmosophy (Wallflower Press, 2006).