Brocka film ‘Insiang’ returning to Cannes
After 37 years, “Insiang” is returning to Cannes.
“It brings back memories,” award-winning actress Hilda Koronel said upon learning that Lino Brocka’s 1976 film will be reshown at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival, under the Cannes Classics section.
“I feel like crying because Lino is no longer around [to witness this],” Koronel told the Inquirer via Facebook Messenger.
Brocka died in a car crash on May 21, 1991.
In a way, “Insiang’s” return to Cannes is a fitting tribute to the late filmmaker whose death anniversary falls in the same month as the A-list festival (this year, from May 13 to 24).
“Insiang,” which also features screen legend Mona Lisa, was first shown at Cannes in 1978, under the Section Parallèle/Directors’ Fortnight section. According to the fest’s website, “Insiang” holds the distinction of being the “first Filipino feature film to be presented at Cannes.”
Written by Mario O’Hara, “Insiang” tells the story of a girl from the slums who, after being raped by her mother’s lover, takes matters into her own hands.
In 1978, Brocka took Koronel to the south of France, where the actress stayed for five days.
“We barely had time to do things for fun,” she recounted. “We were busy promoting the film.” She recalled rushing from one venue to another, “for interviews and photo ops.”
She managed to watch only two films, Karen Arthur’s “The Mafu Cage” and
Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of the Senses.” Oshima won best director in Cannes that year for “The Empire of Passion,” his companion piece to the controversial erotic film “In the Realm of the Senses.”
“That (latter) film was quite hard to forget,” Koronel told the Inquirer. “It made a huge splash so we wanted to see it. Lino and I later had lunch with the lead stars.”
In 2013, Koronel, who is now based in Los Angeles, returned to Cannes for the screening of Brocka’s “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag,” also in the Cannes Classics section. The film had been digitally restored through the efforts of the same organizations behind the restoration of
“Insiang”: the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, L’Immagine Ritrovata and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
In a videotaped message shown before the “Maynila” screening, Oscar-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese, founder of World Cinema Project, vowed to restore another Brocka film—which turned out to be “Insiang.”
That year, Koronel had a “sentimental” reunion with Brocka’s friend and French cineaste Pierre Rissient, who had brought “Insiang” to Cannes.
Rissient was instrumental in the restoration of “Insiang.”
This year, “Insiang” will be screened alongside films by Costas-Gavras (“Z”), Luis Puenzo (“La Historia Oficial”) and an Orson Welles centennial presentation (“Citizen Kane,” “The Lady from Shanghai”) in the same section.
“I feel honored,” Koronel said. “It feels wonderful. I am very proud of ‘Insiang.’ It was a low-budget film that made it in the international scene. It’s great that, after all these years, our little film is still well-regarded.”
Another Filipino film, Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Taklub,” starring Nora Aunor, will be shown at this year’s Cannes, in the Un Certain Regard section.
“Insiang” will be shown in Cannes on May 16 and in Manila on June 24, related FDCP chair Briccio Santos, who hopes Koronel can make it to the premiere in France “as she did for the restored ‘Maynila’ two years ago.”
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