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Is the Filipino Film Industry Dying?

By JULES VIVAS

Illustration from Freepik

Illustration from Freepik

Last year, in light of the centennial celebration of Philippine cinema, acclaimed director Erik Matti voiced his opinion on the condition of the local film industry, saying it was “in a state of coma.” The Filipino filmmaker made his point citing the plateau in story development and the stale state of art-house productions.

Over the years, the Philippine movie industry has seen a steady decline in viewership from 131 million in 1996 to 63 million in 2004. Production-wise from the 200 films a year in the ‘80s, the country’s movie industry went down to a total of 56 new films in 2006, to around 30 in 2007.

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Again and again, it has been said by critics and directors that the local film industry is on the decline, as producers go with the same set of one-line premise genres from the rom-coms to the slapstick movies yearly.

The 21st century saw the reawakening of independent filmmaking through digital technology, and not a few indie films have earned international prestige. On the year-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Philippine cinema, the industry is left in a far worse state as movie houses are closed and filmmakers are barred from creating films because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

MOVI[E]NG Lola Igna received critical acclaim at the 2019 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, and was awarded the coveted Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Musical Score, and Best Actress for Angie Ferro

MOVI[E]NG Lola Igna received critical acclaim at the 2019 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, and was awarded the coveted Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Musical Score, and Best Actress for Angie Ferro

“In the midst of the global pandemic, the film industry will be the last to reopen,” said writer-director Eduardo Roy Jr. in a recent interview with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. Two of Roy’s films Lola Igna (2019) and Pamilya Ordinaryo (2016) have been released on Netflix this month, a small but significant victory for the local film industry.

“I am really hopeful that we get through this, and that the film industry will be able to adapt to the so called ‘new normal,’ and rise again,” says the multi-awarded Filipino filmmaker when asked for his assessment of the industry today. “I believe that once this health crisis is over, protocols for viewers and moviegoers will be made,” he added.

FIL[M]IPINO PRIDE Filipino director Eduardo Roy Jr. has won 15 awards and had 23 nominations to competitions held locally and abroad, photo courtesy of Cinemalaya

FIL[M]IPINO PRIDE Filipino director Eduardo Roy Jr. has won 15 awards and had 23 nominations to competitions held locally and abroad, photo courtesy of Cinemalaya

Like many of the workforce right now, filmmakers and production crews have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus disease. “Even without cinema, there are other platforms like television and digital. If there are no projects, I always think of new concepts, which I make into scripts and eventually film. I make it a point to make myself productive,” says Roy of how he gets by in the pandemic, urging everyone not to give up on film but instead to find ways to practice the craft.

EXTRAORDINARY The film Pamilya Ordinaryo is a heartbreaking sketch of reality in the country about early parenthood and poverty

EXTRAORDINARY The film Pamilya Ordinaryo is a heartbreaking sketch of reality in the country about early parenthood and poverty

“We are not going back to way things were before, not any time soon at least. Until a vaccine is produced, there’s no telling when filmmakers will be able to film or viewers to enjoy movies again,” laments Roy, sharing his prediction on the immediate future of the local movie industry. “This, however, will not be an excuse for filmmaking in the Philippines to cease entirely. The industry will not die just like that. There are too many lives dependent on it. And for that reason, it will survive. For sure there will be protocols for a safe and working environment so that we can continue making films.”



Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/06/is-the-filipino-film-industry-dying/)

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