“Because films when distilled through time, like wine become better received when truly good, when seen to be ahead of their time, or when they afford newer meanings for a different generation.”
BY Mauro Feria Tumbocon Jr, Festival Director, Filipino International Cine Festival
In 2007, before his death, Joey Gosiengfiao was being celebrated by younger viewers for his 1980 movie, TEMPTATION ISLAND – four beauty queens find themselves in an island after a shipwreck, with no provisions – rediscovering “camp” in local film, the very quality for which Gosiengfiao was loved by his public decades earlier, for which he was consistently ignored by critics – reason why he did not even merit a biographical entry in the first edition of CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art.
Of late, a contemporary, Elwood Perez, is currently being hailed by critics and viewers alike for an unmistakable creative resurgence with the release of two new films, in quick succession, OTSO (Eight, 2013) and ESOTERIKA: MANILA (2014), which has created a new interest in his career as a whole – a span of more than 4 decades – which saw his foray into different genres and a reassessment of a few of his films, notably SILIP (literal trans. peep; English title: Daughters of Eve), 1985 (a critic would refer to it as the mirror image of Ishmael Bernal’s HIMALA (Miracle), 1982; BILANGIN ANG BITUIN SA LANGIT (Count the Stars in Heaven), 1989, as the quintessential Filipino rags-to-riches melodrama; and PINAY, AMERICAN STYLE, 1979, the movie that pre-figures the undocumented Filipino in the US.
Another Filipino filmmaker who is gaining a younger audience is Danny Zialcita – he passed away in 2013 – whose films known for their wit have somehow resonated with an audience weary of the pedestrian humor and for their sophisticated treatment of gender relations, to cite: his Mahinhin series, their gay characters do not succumb to bathos and tragedy common to such in earlier movies.
Revaluation, as critical practice, runs counter to the notion that only one or only a few can be judged as best in a certain year – reinforced by the annual awarding of such, by different award-giving bodies. Yet, it is only through this process that more number of films can be recognized for other reasons, because done in repeated viewings, because historical distance affords one the space to reassess based on the films’ standing with respect to history, to other films as well – did the films break new grounds, were they able to subvert the genre, did they have social, cultural impact?
(As an aside, revaluation should not be confined solely on the directors – Ronwaldo Reyes is another director that merits a revaluation – but also actors. In this case, among actors, the comedians have been sorely dismissed and ignored: my personal choice for a career assessment is the late Rene Requiestas for his subversive humor.)
It has to be recognized that revaluation is only possible with a very engaged film audience, a dynamic critical environment, the consistent availability of materials in whatever form. This is corollary to a development mentioned in my earlier postings, about the need for a sustained preservation and restoration of films.