Lolit Solis, Janno Gibbs wish PH filmmakers would make happy movies: ‘Puro patayan, kahirapan’
The success of “Crazy Rich Asians” in the Philippines just couldn’t be any more palpable as it shattered two box-office records on its opening in the country. The movie earned a staggering P82.7 million on its first five days alone, unseating “Maid in Manhattan” (2002) as the all-time biggest opening weekend for a foreign rom-com.
Many, too, have praised the film and have since taken to social media to give their own sentiments. Veteran talent manager and columnist Lolit Solis and singer-actor Janno Gibbs were two of those who spoke highly of “Crazy Rich Asians,” but it appears they also have a message intended for Filipino filmmakers and writers alike: More happy films, less patayan.
Gibbs took to his Instagram on Aug. 28 to share the poster of “Crazy Rich Asians,” where he told his fans that he “loved it.”
“Sana ganito makilala ang Philippine culture sa international market,” wrote Gibbs. “Eh puro patayan at kahirapan ang pinapadala nating movies sa mga int’l film festivals eh. Pwede namang masaya diba.”
Some agreed with Gibbs’ remarks, including newscaster Arnold Clavio.
“Bro yan din ang tanong ko? Bakit kung ano ang pangit sa atin yun pa ang nilalako?” wrote Clavio. “We have a lot to offer. Para mabago naman ang tingin sa atin sa ibang bansa.”
Gibbs replied to Clavio, telling him that “entertainment” isn’t the purpose of local filmmakers.
“@akosiigan hindi entertainment ang purpose nila eh,” said Gibbs. “Social commentary. Political statement. Tsk tsk.”
And it wasn’t just Gibbs who echoed the same sentiments. Lolit Solis took to her Instagram last Aug. 17 to tell her fans that many of her friends abroad have been wondering why it wasn’t a Filipino who thought of creating “Crazy Rich Asians.”
“Hindi raw nila maintindihan bakit hindi Filipino filmmaker ang nakagawa nito, bakit hindi local writers natin ang nakaisip ng concept nito?”
Solis went on, asking why the films Filipino filmmakers send abroad are about poverty in the Philippines, killings and social discrepancies in life.
“Bakit nga ba ang mga pelikula nating pinapadala sa abroad tungkol sa kahirapan ng Pilipinas, tungkol sa patayan, tungkol sa social discrepancy ng buhay, slums, madumi at magulong parte ng bayan natin,” said Solis.
“Iyon mga foreigner na nanood ng pelikula napapa ‘oh’ at ‘wow’ tuwing ipapakita kung gaano ka rich, katalino, at kabongga ang mga Asians… At iyon ang number one napansin nila, ang ganda ng Asia.”
“Bakit nga ba hindi tayo nakagawa ng ganung pelikula? Bakit ba ang gusto natin ipakita sa abroad ay iyon hirap at pangit sa bayan natin? Bakit?”
Solis also used Brillante Mendoza’s “Ma’ Rosa” as an example in her musing. “Ma’Rosa” saw veteran actress Jaclyn Jose win the Cannes best actress award back in 2016, while the film itself was nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or — the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Kahit nanalo sa Cannes ang Mama Rosa [sic] at iba pang movie natin, ang naiwan image iyon slums, mga street children, kahirapan ng ating bayan. Iyon ang image natin na gusto iwanan sa isip nila. nakatulong ba sa bayan natin?”
Solis added, “Dami naman mayaman sa atin, kahit gawa tayo Crazy Rich Pilipino kaya natin. Bakit crazy poor ang ginagawa?”
It appears, however, that Mendoza has already addressed the same questions in the past. In an interview with the New York Times back in 2016, Mendoza opposed the term “poverty porn” that was being thrown around in film. Poverty porn is a term that pertains to any type of media that exploits, glamorizes and sensationalizes the poor’s condition to evoke sympathy.
“I live in a developing country,” Mendoza said then, adding that a large percentage of people live below the poverty line. “So is it poverty porn when you are telling stories of society?”
Mendoza and his contemporary Lav Diaz are a part of the growing wave of filmmakers in the country who use their medium not just to merely entertain or elicit laughs, but to spotlight the narratives and stories of those in the fringes and shadows of society. Most of their films are neorealist in style and depict stories about poverty, drugs, corruption and homosexuality, among others.
For one, Lav Diaz’s latest musical film, “Season of the Devil (Ang Panahon ng Halimaw),” which was released last February, tells a harrowing tale that revisits the martial law era.
Filmmakers Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal and Mike de Leon, on the other hand, used the power of film in the face of censorship during the Marcos regime in the ’70s and early ’80s. They built their legacy by creating socially conscious films and opened up a path for the next generation of independent filmmakers. /ra