44 Filipino Directors by Oscar Fernandez Orengo
In Spanish, English, Tagalog. Introduction by Shirley O. Lua Published by Instituto Cervantes de Manila, 2011 (price tba) Contemporary Filipino film directors have a new mirror, consisting of forty-four retratos (portraits) in a book by famous Spanish photographer Oscar Fernandez Orengo which were exhibited at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) two years ago. The choice of the 44 direks is not innocent: most of them belong of course to the young generation of the indie filmmakers who emerged around 2000, like Brillante Mendoza, Aureaus Solito, Jim Libiran, Khavn de la Cruz, Raya Martin, Adolfo B. Alix, and Lav Diaz. But one can also find prestigious veterans, like Eddie Romero (the last survivor of the Golden Era), Elwood Perez, Celso Ad Castillo, Peque Gallaga, Gil Portes, Mel Chionglo, Joel Lamangan, Cesar Hernando, Clodualdo del Mundo, Roxlee, and of course Mario O'Hara, as well as younger ones like Raymond Red. There is a definite parti-pris by the photographer to frame the faces and bodies of the directors in a mainly urban environment, usually hyper-realistic, anti-glamorous (as is the trend now), and let's say it doesn't always work. The postures are sometimes stiff, and (purposely?) unnatural. But the general atmosphere of the raw, unaesthetical city of Manila is well rendered, while a breath of fresh air is cooling a few bucolic shots out of the green (Tara Illenberger, Celso Ad Castillo, Sherad Anthony Sanchez or Peque Gallaga, for instance). Of course this book would not be complete without an introduction: "Philippine cinema: a mythic journey" (with 44 profiles and a bibliography) by film scholar Shirley O.Lua traces the main features of Filipino cinema, as seen by Pinoys and from the outside (mainly in festivals). The text is in three languages (Spanish, English, Tagalog), as this beautiful and unusual book (hard cover) is published by the Instituto Cervantes de Manila (July 2011). A must for everyone who wants to go beyond those 44 faces of Filipino cinema, as it is now.
by Max Tessier