We’re happy to announce that, after Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” and Peque Gallaga’s “Oro Plata Mata,” film buffs will get a chance to watch Lino Brocka’s exceptional 1975 drama, “Maynila, Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag,” next month—when its gorgeously restored version will be screened in local theaters.
Recently, upon the invitation of Tommy Abuel—who won a Best Supporting Actor trophy for his intense portrayal in the movie—we were thrilled to finally watch Brocka’s dramatic opus on the big screen, and saw for ourselves why the film remains relevant in the digital age.
Although we find the intoxicatingly lovely Koronel’s monologues needlessly protracted, there are a lot of indelible dramatic moments for screen aficionados to savor, from Roco’s gut-wrenching final scene to Abuel’s shockingly cathartic moment—an instructive feat of slow-burn characterization!
But, don’t take our word for it—we urge you to watch “Maynila” when it’s shown next month. The movie itself has found a formidable ally in—hold your breath—Martin Scorsese, who helped restore it.
Before the screening at Cine Adarna in UP, the legendary American director spoke, via video, about why he, his World Cinema Foundation, L’ Immagine Ritrovata, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines decided to restore and remaster Brocka’s classic.
Scorsese explained, “It’s been extremely difficult to find good prints of Brocka’s films. So, for us at WCF, it was urgent to participate in the restoration of his movies, beginning with ‘Manila, In The Claws of Light’—a powerful and emotional viewing experience, and one of Brocka’s greatest movies, shot in the harshest conditions in the heart of Manila, at the height of the Marcos regime.”
Brocka’s activism was a snug fit for “Maynila’s” scathing commentary about the country’s stultifying social realities under an oppressive regime. The creative team behind it is nothing to scoff at—it includes cinematographer/producer Mike de Leon, novelist Edgardo Reyes (whose story was serialized in Liwayway magazine, between 1966 and 1967), screenwriter Clodualdo “Doy” del Mundo Jr., and a topnotch cast, led by Bembol Roco, Hilda Koronel and Abuel.
After “Himala,” “Oro Plata Mata” and “Maynila, Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag,” we hope that more classics by our film masters will be restored, so that our young filmmakers can learn from them. They also expose our young generation of actors to different acting and directorial styles—so, it’s a win-win situation all around!