The University of the Philippines Diliman campus hosted the first day of the international conference, “Sandaan: Philippine Cinema Centennial Conference”, on September 14 at the UP Film Institute (UPFI) Cine Adarna, UP Diliman, Quezon City.
Held in celebration of 100 years of Philippine cinema, the two-day event started with inspiring messages from UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan, UP College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) Dean Elena Pernia, and UPFI Director Sari Dalena. Professor Wimal Dissanayake of the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawaii delivered the keynote address that focused on “Nationhood, Cinema and the Public Sphere”.
According to Tan, Philippine movies during the first 100 years tackled many important social issues, including politics and gender. He also said that “the best of our movies are those that had to overcome many obstacles, from budgets to censorship, showing how cinema does not just reflect society but is society writ large,” referring to censorship and films during martial law.
Tan hoped the use of digital technologies would help filmmakers in instilling critical awareness and discernment in the public. “Sineng Filipino’s excellence will depend on how we are rooted in being Filipino and in being human,” concluded Tan.
Pernia highlighted the history and leading role of the UP CMC and the UPFI in media and film education, practice, and scholarship.
Dalena said that “cinema is a beautiful and powerful medium, and it is young at 100 years.” She added that “as an art form, cinema remains to be explored and shaped in the next 100 years.” Dalena also said the conference, which examined the nation’s cinematic history from 1917 to the present, was just the start of a 3-year celebration to continue up to 2019.
Dissanayake extensively discussed the inter-relationships between cinema, nationhood, and the public sphere. He cited scholarly work, films, issues, and other examples from Asian and Western societies, as well as from the Philippines. He added that the celebration of 100 years of Philippine cinema also includes the recognition of the importance of the works done by Filipino filmmakers and scholars.
Day 1 of “Sandaan” featured panel discussions on the beginnings and development of cinema in colonial Philippines, during World War 2 and the Japanese occupation, from the post-war period to pre-1972, and up to the Marcos administration’s Martial Law era. It included discussions on the birth of political cinema and film archiving.
Among the scholars of cinema included in the panel discussions were: Nadi Tofighian (Dept. of Media Studies, Stockholm University); Ernie de Pedro (Takayama Ukon Kensho Zaidan); Lena Pareja-Strait (CAL, UP Diliman); Nick Deocampo (UPFI, CMC); Motoe Terami-Wada (fellow at Sophia University, DLSU, Osaka University, Ateneo de Manila University); Ricardo Jose (Third World Studies Center, UP Diliman); Nicanor Tiongson (UPFI, CMC); Joyce L. Arriola (University of Santo Tomas); Rolando Tolentino (UPFI, CMC); Bliss Cua Lim (Film and Media Studies, University of California, Irvine); Rosemarie Roque (Society of Filipino Archivists for Film, NCCA); and, many others.
After the panel discussions, the film “Mababangong Bangungot” (Perfumed Nightmare) starring, written, and directed by Kidlat Tahimik, was screened, followed by an open forum with the acclaimed filmmaker. Tahimik imparted inspiring life lessons for the audience and young filmmakers. He also advised them to keep telling original stories and to make films based on the Filipino people’s own culture and experiences.
Day 2 was held at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, School of Design and Arts Theater. Panel discussions tackled filmmaking from the regions and the diasporic communities, digital and new cinema, subaltern and activist subjects, film education, and alternative histories.
The conference was organized by the UP Film Institute, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, and the De La Salle – College of St. Benilde. (Fred Dabu, UP MPRO)
To view more photos of the event, click here.