Sunday, January 24, 2010

The number of Filipino films; Jean Simmons, 1929 - 2010

Jean Simmons in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's Black Narcissus (1947)

Jean Simmons, 1929 - 2010

An unbelievable beauty, I remember her best for the times she didn't speak--as the dead Ophelia in Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), the mute Indian girl in Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus (1947), the enigmatic lure in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946), the slave smiling shyly at Kirk Douglas in Spartacus (1960).

That said, my last memory of her wasn't so much her face as it was her voice--aged and cracked, yet full of of great warmth and spirit, the voice of elderly Sophie Hatter in Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle (2004).

So long, Ms. Jean, glad to have seen--and listened to--you.

Answering a question from a previous discussion, this is what I found in the Plaridel Journal, published by the University of the Philippines Department of Mass Communications. The Journal's introduction mentions the number of 35 mm films commercially released each year:

2001 = 103
2002 = 94
2003 = 80
2004 = 55
2005 = 50
2006 = 49
2007 = 39
2008 = 36

Which doesn't look good. But add to this a separate count of the digital films given a full theatrical release:

2004 = 1
2005 = 5
2006 = 12
2007 = 40
2008 = 47

--and you can see where most of the creative energy and passion has gone. Amazing to note the burst of activity in just four years, from one film to forty, thanks to the efforts of Cinemanila, Cinemalaya, and Cinema One Originals festival organizers.

I can see some questions need to be asked: how much money did these digital productions make? Not sure; but if the number of productions is increasing and not decreasing, someone must think there is money to be made out there. Either that, or someone must think our filmmakers need an outlet, to say what's on their minds, and that this endeavor is important enough to keep pouring money in.

Which makes this welcome news:

Cinemalaya 2010: A battle between veteran, new directors?

MANILA, Philippines - Former Cultural Center of the Philippines president Nestor Jardin delivered his opening remarks at the launch of the 6th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival Wednesday noon at the CCP Main Theater lobby with intriguing lines.

He said: “...the Open Category for established film directors was introduced to bring complication to the festival.”

Jardin wasn't speaking in limbo but on concrete terms.

It wasn't of course the complication of doomsayers, but the more enlightened vision of an artist and a technocrat.

The Open Category is an initial venture of the festival to feature works by Filipino directors, who, according to Cinemalaya Foundation Board of Director Laurice Guillen, have directed at least 3 full-length feature films that have been released commercially.

According to the CCP Public Relations Office, big name and established directors will add luster to this year's Cinemalaya.

From out of the 20 or so entries, only 5 got to the final round namely "Ang Paglilitis ni Bonifacio” by Mario O'Hara, “Isang Pirasong Buhay” by Mark Meily, “Pink Halu-Halo” by Joselito Altarejos, “Sigaw” by Joel Lamangan and “Two Funerals” by Gil Portes.

Meanwhile, the annual Full Length Category carries relatively young and independently spirited filmmakers.

Ten entries from out of 198 aspirants qualified officially to the contest. They are Gutierrez Mangansakan II's “Limbunan,” Sheron Dayoc's “Halaw,” “Arnel Mardoquio's “Sheika,” Dan Villegas and Paul Sta. Ana's “Mayohan,” Kim Homer C. Garcia's “Magkakapatid,” Danny AƱonuevo's “Rekrut,” Francis Xavier Pasion's “Sampaguita,” Art Katipunan's “Si Techie, Si Tekboy at si JuanaB,” Dennis N. Marasigan's “Siya ang Mayor Ko” and Ian-Dean S. Lorenos' “The Leaving.”

Speaking on empirical sense, O'Hara said indie filmmaking isn't a new idea to the local film industry.

“Panahon pa ni Lino Brocka sa kanyang 'Insiang,' indie film na 'yon dahil maliit lang ang budget. Twelves days lang ang shooting days no'n. 'Yong pitu-pito ni Mother Lily (Monteverde, producer of Regal Entertainment), indie din 'yon. Ngayon, sa project na ito, ang mahalaga ay substance at performance.” (In Lino Brocka's day his Insiang was an indie film that had a low budget. It was shot in twelve days. Mother Lily's pitu-pito were indies too. Now, with this project, what's important is substance and performance)

Lamangan, meantime, is very optimistic he can pull off a film that can conform to an indie filmmaking budget.

“Susubukan natin at alam ko na may magagawa tayo,” (We'll try it and I know we can do something) he said.

Portes is very certain he can do a full-length feature in the indie spirit by meticulously seeing through the script before the cameras roll.

He reminded the young indie filmmakers though to refrain from being too “ideal,” if not being unrealistic, about the handling of the material at hand.

This was how he contextualized it: “Halimbawa, ang isang bagong direktor, ayaw niyang mapuputulan ang kanyang mahabang mga eksena kahit wala nang sense.” (For example, a new director, he doesn't want his scenes cut even if they don't make any sense)

On the other hand, from among the new set of directors, the tension between them and the old timers isn't a problem.

“Wala namang magiging conflict dahil may respeto naman kami sa kanila. 'Yon lang, sa casting, 'yong ibang artista, nasa veteran directors at sa amin din kaya nagkaka-conflict sa schedule,” (There isn't going to be any conflict because we respect them. But for the casting, we may want the same artists, so there could be a problem with schedules) exclaimed AƱonuevo.

Or what CCP PR head Irene Rada had said: “Marami ring matutunan ang mga bagong direktor sa mga beterano and vice versa.” (The new directors can learn something from the veterans, and vice versa) -Boy Villasanta,

as of 01/21/2010 12:25 PM

14 comments: said...

yes of course, i agree, if we define indie films as a low budget film shoot in shorter days, matagal n talagang may indie films, pero may connotation kc na pag indie fims mas madalas malalim ang substance, may bagong approach at very idealistic ang writer at director,with the excemption of insiang, regal films and seiko films pito pito during early 90's are all,excuse me basura....and come to think of it, those films of nora aunor with tower productions was also done with low buget and finished in less than a week,kya walang substance pero laging box office hit. was it an indie films? Will anyone give an exact definition of what is indie film?

Edwin Sallan said...

Don;t forget The Robe, Noel. The former Holy Week TV staple where Jean Simmons was probably most seen by Pinoy audiences. She's quite radiant there, too although she's not given much to do.

Noel Vera said...

Yeah, not much.

Check out Angel Face, Edwin. Word has it that Howard Hughes had the hots for her but when she turned him down, he vowed to make life miserable and put her in that movie with Otto Preminger (I'll get even with that little bitch,' he's supposed to have said). She plays this great femme fatale, a sexy, father-obsessed absolutely evil little minx (in heat, no less), and her chemistry against and with Mitchum is fantastic.

That said, Preminger's treatment of her was pretty sadistic. He'd order Mitchum to slap her again, and again, and again till her eyes watered, and finally Mitchum had enough and slapped Preminger.

Solo said...

Ah... She did a great job in Howl's Moving Castle.

Noel Vera said...

It's a fine late work.

Edwin Sallan said...

Angel Face is Da Bomb. Caught it in segments in YouTube yesterday. Now I know where Fatal Attraction got its inspiration.

Noel Vera said...


Edwin Sallan said...

yeah, actually reminds me of those classic Sampaguita Pictures films in the same era. would work if adopted locally at the time, too. I can imagine Barbara Perez and Ric Rodrigo in the same lead roles.

Edwin Sallan said...

speaking of which, can't remember if you ever wrote about those Sampaguita Pictures classics. or even the films of Luis Nepomuceno and Cirio H. Santiago. good or bad, they are part of our cinema history. would love to hear your take on them.

Noel Vera said...

I haven't seen that many, need to at least finish that list of movies on kabayan central. One of these days.

john marzan said...

Which doesn't look good. But add to this a separate count of the digital films given a full theatrical release:

2008 = 47

--and you can see where most of the creative energy and passion has gone. Amazing to note the burst of activity in just four years, from one film to forty, thanks to the efforts of Cinemanila, Cinemalaya, and Cinema One Originals festival organizers.

anong ibig sabihin ng "full theatrical release"? how many theaters are we talking here aside from Cinemalaya, CCP or UP film ctr?

Noel Vera said...

Not many theaters. Simply this: it was screened in a theater, before a paying audience.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm doing a paper on the Philippine Film Industry, currently on the phase of problem proposal.

Right now I've focused my proposal on whether the Philippine Film Industry is indeed ripe for government protectionist policies if it is indeed a case of market failure or not (given that is the best time for intervention). I'm interested in the stats presented, on what issue of Plaridel can I get my hands on those stats, if there is more I'd love to get my mits on them.

Thanks a lot. Hm where can I leave my e-mail...

Noel Vera said...

What I'm told is that it's an annual issue, published by the UP Film Center. You should really go there and ask.