Philippine Cinema, 1897-2020
Authored by GASPAR A. VIBAL and DENNIS S. VILLEGAS
Edited by TEDDY O. CO
Foreword by CLODUALDO DEL MUNDO, JR.
Afterword by NICK DEOCAMPO
This lavishly illustrated art book not only provides a dazzling retrospective of over a hundred years of Philippine cinema, it also simultaneously traces its history, genres, narratives, tropes, and lore while subjecting its rich filmography to critique and film theory. The book tracks Philippine cinematic beginnings as a technological marvel and its many turns up to the twenty-first century as it blindly accepted, appropriated, indigenized, and even attacked Western conventions through intentionally wicked but hilarious parodies.
The volume also boldly looks at the seamier side of the industry with its unblinking examination of DVD plenitude and piracy, trafficking of low-brow exploitation flicks, dislocation of mainstream distribution brought on by the advent of streaming and Netflix, and the tragic loss of the cinematic archive and the consequent loss of national memory. Nevertheless, a common thread runs through all its pages: a fevered cinephilia that equally valorizes the sublime and the ridiculous, from the socially realistic films set in the most miserable slums to the most inspired satires of spy capers and spaghetti westerns, and from the most profound critique to a weltering listmania of nostalgia and trivia. Its one hundred essays contain 1,200 notes and gossipy asides, plus over 1,315 images, which will equally delight any diehard movie buff or casual cinematic art lover.
As in any project that is broad and sweeping in scope, this recent scan of the story of Philippine cinema from the nineteenth century to the present courts the usual problems of depth and insight, and the requirements of intellectual risk and speculation. But this does not deter the authors from taking on the daunting task of sketching out the contours of a long-running, ever winding tale. By turns anecdotal and academic, it expectedly hits and misses in an interestingly uneven way. It is a sprawling effort, strewn with curious details] and initial inquiries for both the wide-eyed and the squinting.
—Patrick D. Flores
Professor, University of the Philippines Department of Art Studies and Curator, Vargas Museum
Philippine Cinema, 1897-2020, was written and edited by cinephiles who have reviewed and researched extensively about local and foreign-made film that reflects the Filipino experience. Written close to the heart, the book records not just the big moments, but even the obscure details and forgotten episodes of its history. Catholic in adoration, syncretic in approach, and almost compulsive in its desire not to leave out anything, this art book’s capaciousness proves that telling the story of Philippine cinema is not the monopoly of any single historian but the task of every serious movie fan.
—Patrick F. Campos
Director, University of the Philippines Film Institute