6th Pandayang Lino Brocka Theme: Social Movements

 

Those who do not move do not notice their chains

-Rosa Luxemburg

 

The Philippines has been ever changing since written history, some drastic but most are hardly felt by most of its people. Toil and social movements have led to these changes. From the struggles fought by the Great Plebian Andres Bonifacio against Spanish colonizers, the guerilla warfare against Japanese occupation, the resistance against the Marcos totalitarian rule and how the Filipinos proved that despite a repressive and fascist government, true power still rests among the people, the ouster of another President in what would later be popularly known as People Power II, impeachment of a magistrate, and so on, and so forth.

The ever pulsating movements of the society have pushed for all the changes not just in the Philippines but for the rest of the world – the Greek uprising against austerity measures, Occupy Wall Street movement, and the renewed Arab Spring to name a few. In the country, different movements have been made from all sections of the political spectrum, people from different socio-economic standing, and of different initiatives, which has led to ‘changes’ and reforms in the whole country just recently. The latest of those is the massive and popular anger of the Filipinos over the so-called ‘Pork-Barrel’ Scam. The nationwide fury and dissatisfaction has led into mustering tens, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of people all over the archipelago into condemning government corruption.

Social movement is not a choice of the people – it is their mandate. For whatever situation the Philippines and the rest of the world has gone through and will face in the coming ages, it has always been, and will always be the people who wield the power; as the saying goes, “A people united, will never be defeated.” To contend and defy a repressive, crooked, and corrupt system is a mandate need to be fulfilled by the people and film and new media has a role to play in carrying out these social movements. A surge of different forms of communication, presentation of facts, and all other forms of media primarily or wholly aimed in educating the people and encouraging them into partaking in a social movement is now the mandate of the artists in making their art relevant to the people.

Dr. Roland Tolentino’s speech during the 4th Pandayang Lino Brocka’s awarding ceremonies

Mga mag-aaral, ko-fakulti, staff, filmmakers, mga kaibigan at bisita,

Apat na taon na ang Pandayang Lino Brocka, at malaki na ang ikinaunlad ng film festival na ito.  Natatangi pa rin ang Pandayang Brocka dahil ito lamang ang showcase at may diin sa politikal na uri ng filmmaking, at pagtalakay ng mga isyu hinggil dito.  Sa katunayan, nakakapasok na sa kamalayan ng publiko na ang pagkaunlad ng tinatawag na pangatlong golden age sa Philippine cinema, ang pamamayagpag ng digital indie cinema, ay mayroong politikal ring pinag-uugatan.  Salamat ito sa Pandayang Brocka.

Sa katunayan ulit, ang isa sa tinitingalang inspirasyon sa narrative feature film, maging sa conceptual filmmaking, sa indie cinema ay walang dili’t iba kundi ang taong pinapangaralan ng festival na ito, mismong si Lino Brocka.  Mataas ang turing kay Brocka, pambansang alagad ng sining para sa pelikula, bilang inspirasyon nina Lav Diaz, Brillante Mendoza, Khavn De La Cruz, Raya Martin at Adolfo Alix, Jr.  Si Brocka ang pangunahing figura ng direktor na patuloy na gumigiya sa kalidad ng filmmaking sa kasalukuyan, kasama ang pamumulaklak nito sa indie cinema:  na ang pelikula ay narito para sa manonood para magbigay ng mensaheng politikal—na hindi lubos ang kondisyon ng pamumuhay ng mamamayan, na may kinakailangang gawin ang mamamayan para makamit ang kanyang paglaya, na ang paglaya ng mga individual ay may kinalaman sa pagpapalaya ng lipunan at bansa. Continue reading

Changemakers

August is a month of history and social change.

August, the month of the opening of the annual Pandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival, is a month replete with historical events in the country. The Cry of Pugadlawin and the first battle of the 1896 Philippine revolution in Pinaglabanan took place in August. Hence, National Heroes Day is celebrated in this month. Almost a century later happened the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, the final blow to the Marcos dictatorship, and after three decades, the death of his wife Corazon Aquino, the successor of Marcos and first woman president of the Philippines. They are known heroes of popular democracy. In this day, their only son reigns as president with an arduous promise of bringing reforms in an enduring oppressive system.

And Lino Brocka, the great director for whom the said festival is given as tribute, lived through and exposed the social realities of the post-dictatorship period where the human rights situation was grimmer and the course of struggle of the oppressed was taken to its highest form for change to be brought about. That film, Orapronobis, rings ever more true to this day.

The theme of the fourth year of the Pandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival brings itself back to why it started: for viewers to remember and to change what ought to be changed and for filmmakers to partake in that movement for change bestowed by Rizal, Del Pilar, Mabini, Jacinto, Bonifacio with the pen, or now also the camera.

Filmmakers and viewers are changemakers. While filmmakers chronicle history and espouse change in tones overt or underlying, they must also partake in the movement for social change to be one with their subject, as did National Artists for Film Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka. In making films that allow the viewers to remember their colonial past such as Dalena’s Memoirs of a Forgotten War, they are given a better vantage point of the surviving system subservient to the rich few of this country and world such as Manatad’s Agree Ka Ba? (Do You Agree?), Burgos’ Old News and Concepcion’s Politics of US Occupation. This vantage point should be or is a perspective for change; change that can only be attained in struggle. When the filmmakers and viewers have become changemakers, maybe it is then that the film is consummate. This must be what Lino Brocka referred to as the Great Film.

Then, the Great Audience that the late Lino Brocka envisioned is probably the viewers [who pick themselves up (before or) after a movie and] who themselves make history that is delightful, powerful and interesting to document or be made into a film. With their collective struggles, the people themselves write the script of their own film, etch their own inscription in history, as marked by the documentaries Pinaglabanan (Battleground) by Tudla Productions, Women at the Forefront by Kodao Productions and Puso ng Lungsod (Heart of the City) by Ilang-Ilang Quijano.

But the Great Film—such as those political films that make people remember and act—must be offered to them. The organizers of this festival believe that the films here hues to that Great Film.

In the tradition of the Pandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival, filmmakers and viewers are once again mustered and marshaled to take their place in history and social change.#

“We must expose and fight what is wrong.” ~Lino Brocka

Response Speech by Lino Brocka upon receiving the 1985 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts

The filmmaker, like his peers in the other media, now realizes that the artist is also a public person. He no longer isolates himself from society. Instead of working in his ivory tower he is a citizen of the slums, of the streets, of the battlefields if need be. The artist is becoming a participant. He tries to be true, not only to his craft but also to himself. What he says on the screen, he also says in the streets. For it is the supreme duty of the artist to investigate the truth no matter what forces attempt to hide it. And then to report this truth to the people, to confront them with it. Like a whiplash it will cause wounds but will free the mind from the various fantasies and escapist fares with which “the establishment” pollutes our minds.

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Lino Brocka: The Artist of the People

“The artist is always a participant. He tries to be true not only to his craft but also to himself. For it is the supreme duty of the artist to investigate the truth, no matter what forces attempt to hide it. And then to report it to the people, to confront them with it, like a whiplash that will cause wounds but will free the mind from the various fantasies and escapist fare that the Establishment pollutes our minds with. ” – Lino Brocka

Everyone is a chronicler of truth, but we cannot stop in being witnesses alone. Catalino Ortiz Brocka, or distinctively known as Lino Brocka might have other plans prior to his flourishing yet controversial career as a filmmaker, but he was not able to hamper his fervor and ability towards art.

Lino Brocka was born to a fisherman and a schoolteacher in Pilar, Sorsogon on April 7, 1939. He pursued a degree in English Literature at the University of the Philippines, and was an active member of UP Dramatic Club, from the time when he was eager in becoming an actor.

He graduated from high school with six medals, and attained a scholarship from University of The Philippines. However, he decided to leave his studies for missionary works. He became one of the first converts of Later Day Saints (LDS) in the country , and he served as a Mormon missionary in a leper colony of Hawaii, of island Molokai.

After his life as a faithful missionary, he began to thrive in directing and writing for both the stage and television. Brocka engaged in films that mainstream filmmakers have failed to depict: issues like poverty, oppression and corruption in the government.

His first film was in the year 1970, “Wanted: A Perfect Mother”, became an official entry to the 5th Manila Film Festival in 1970. Through his movie Insiang in 1976 that portrayed the marginalized sector during Marcos’ regime, his career as a filmmaker began to grow, where it internationally gained attention, despite the local government’s censorship.

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