Celebrating Philippine Cinema’s 100th year with an exhibit

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FILMS TELL the story and present the identity of a nation and its people. So to mark 100 years of Philippine cinema, filmmaker and UP Film Institute associate professor Nicolas A. Deocampo has curated an exhibit titled Hidden Cinema: The Virtual Experience of Philippine Cinema’s Centenary, showcasing the evolution of motion pictures in the country.

“We are bringing through this exhibition Philippine cinema back to its very roots. Cinema started a hundred years ago as a short film and how little do we remember that cinema started using that kind of form,” Mr. Deocampo said at the exhibit launch at Makati’s Ayala Museum on July 2, noting that the short film is “the mother of all cinema.”

“One can also think of cinema as documentary because many of the first films that were made were about reality and documentation of actual phenomenological events,” he added.

Mr. Deocampo also noted that such alternative films made up two major movements in cinema — post World War 2 and post Martial Law. “The elements happening in the alternative cinema are very much connected to the actual political history that is going on in this country, [we just have] to see the connection.”

In the exhibit, Mr. Deocampo contextualizes Philippine cinema history and its diversity with Philippine social history. He illustrates alternative cinema’s multiplicity by using the structure of a rhizome — a wooden model in this case — with roots that are interconnected and non-hierarchical. He surrounds the rhizome with descriptions and footage of various film genres including experimental films, documentaries, and archipelagic (regional) films, which he classifies as short, non-commercial, reality-based films, and compares to indie filmmaking.

With the advent of what Mr. Deocampo calls “digital cinema” made possible by technological advancements, he hopes that more of these genres will continue to flourish among emerging filmmakers.

In conjunction with the exhibit, films on the history of Philippine cinema will be shown at Greenbelt 3’s MyCinema on July 14, starting at 1 p.m. These include Cine > Sine: Spanish Beginnings of Philippine Cinema (2009), 1 p.m.; Film: American Beginnings of Philippine Cinema (2012), 2:45 p.m.; Eiga: Cinema During World War II (2016), 4:30 p.m.; Jose Nepomuceno and the Birth of Philippine Cinema (2018), 6:15 p.m.; and Cine Tala (Movie Chronicles), 8:10 p.m. Free screenings of Memories of Old Manila (1993) will follow after each film. Schedule of screenings may change without prior notice. Screenings cost P100 (regular) and P75 (senior citizens, students, teachers, Ayala Museum members, employees of the Ayala Group of Companies, and Ayala Rewards Circle members). There is also the option to purchase a full day ticket for P400 (regular) and P300 (discounted).

The exhibition runs until Aug. 5 at the second floor of the Ayala Museum.