Landmark Book on Philippine Cinema

Manila Bulletin, April 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

Landmark Book on Philippine Cinema


From the pigeonhole:

A valuable contribution to the slim collection of historical writings on Philippine cinema is Cine: Spanish Influences on Early Cinema in the Philippines by award-winning filmmaker and scholar Nick Deocampo. Hailed by local and foreign film scholars, historians and academics as a landmark work on film historiography, the book was formally launched at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last April 2. The event was graced by the Spanish Ambassador, H.E. Ignacio Sagaz, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza and former film actress Amalia Fuentes.

Bringing back cinemas Spanish past, Deocampo reveals the largely unexplored world of early cinema. He uncovers the Hispanic origin of film and sees how Spanish influences determined the shape of early cinema through language, material culture, aesthetics, reception and ideology.

Combining his intellectual rigor as a scholar with his flamboyance as an artist, Deocampo studied in leading academic institutions as a consistent scholar at the University of the Philippines and New York University. With his book, he belongs to the rare breed of filmmakers who also wrote books on Philippine cinema like the pioneers Vicente Salumbides and Eddie Ynfante with each book to his name.

Deocampo, however, improves on his predecessors by writing a full-length history of Philippine cinema, a subject that has remained largely unwritten over the past 100 years. Cine is only the first in a five-volume series that will tackle themes like the development of cinema during the American period, Japanese period, Tagalog cinema and alternative film histories.

Distinguished film scholars have high praises for the book. Magsaysay awardee, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera considers it the good fortune of the local film industry that a practicing filmmaker, fully knowledgeable in the art and craft of making movies, is leading the way towards the writing of its full-length story.

Film critic and cultural historian Dr. Nicanor Tiongson writes: Scholarly and thought-provoking, Cine is an indispensable source for the study of early Philippine films not only for Filipino cineastes and cultural historians but for film buffs anywhere in the world. NHI Director Ambeth Ocampo adds, If this first volume is any indication of the quality of the succeeding four volumes, these books promise to be the definitive work on the history of film in the Philippines.

Internationally, Deocampos book is reaping accolades from renowned film scholars and historians. Leading them in praising the book is prominent American film historian, University of Texas film professor Janet Staiger. Impressed, she writes: the information is astounding, the writing is enjoyable and the pictures are a wonderful fount of visual pleasure.

From the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, film professor Alberto Elena, congratulates Deocampo for his Brilliant reconstruction of the first years of motion pictures in the Philippines. The book comes as a long-awaited and fruitful research on an important chapter in our recent common history.

From France, distinguished film critic, Max Tessier, who has written about Lino Brockas films, has high praises for Cine. The book, he writes, does justice to the prominent role of Spanish cinema and language in the very early Filipino movie industry. He commends the book as a must for the specialist, a real discovery for the larger audience.

Stephen Bottomore, eminent British film historian, sums it all up when he writes: I learned a lot from this book about the social history as much as the film history of the Philippines in the early years of the 20th century. I dont think many historians realized to what extent the Spanish influence lasted after the Americans took over as the colonial power This is the first work of Philippine film history that I have read which makes this clear The book is fluently written and is a pleasure to read A fine piece of work. …

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