THE MOOD, if a number of telltale signs are to be interpreted correctly, is generally optimistic insofar as the fate of local movies is concerned.
Recent developments in the field can possibly bring about much-needed relief to the otherwise distressed movie industry. But perhaps more than instantaneous relief, they herald the advent of change, which can only come about after a cleansing of ranks, the institution of radical reform, and then and only then can Philippine cinema finally see the light of day.
A different kind of purge is also sweeping the ranks of the Film Academy of the Philippines, the bastion of the industry’s continued resistance to change. This was brought about by the recent FAP Awards that caused the shut-out of Marilou Diaz Abaya’s ”Rizal” allegedly instigated by guild members who deliberately snubbed her film during the FAP’s voting.
Through an investigation called for to determine the culprit, Espiridion Laxa of the Philippine Movie Producers Association has vowed to reprimand the members as a disciplinary sanction.
While a simple reprimand may be a solution, it strikes me as unwise, if not totally nonsensical. Politics has all these years ripped the Academy apart, resulting in various factions with vested interests to protect.
The problem is ostensibly more serious and deeper than the awards themselves. It strikes into the very heart and soul of an industry that has refused to professionalize and unite its ranks. I have repeatedly voiced my strong objections to a nonwriting body of so-called critics and critics openly consorting with movie folk. The purge must begin by ridding the Manunuris of bad elements, beginning with those who benefit from their incestuous dealings with movie producers.
A more visible sign that Filipino movies are on the rebound is the presence of new blood among the present crop of film makers.
While I do not pin my last remaining hope on the resurgence of more mature films from our more capable filmmakers, these are efforts that may cause a turnaround, having come from fresh new talents or, at the very least, reinvigorated long-time directors who presumably have their sights set on the international film-festival circuit.
This then is the occasion for raising the thorny question of what the cinema of the future might be like, assuming that vital changes such as those mentioned above augur well for the industry’s future.
But before that can happen, our films will have to be fully responsive and attuned to the swiftly changing moods and modes of the times. Our filmmakers will need to expand their consciousness in their search for material, instead of merely relying on tried-and-tested formulas.
Moviegoers, too, will have to go along with the imperatives of change, as they have been exposed to the continuous innovation in the visual medium.
Even distributors and theater owners will have to fill in the need for the growth in audience taste. This can be done (as the independent chain of cinema owners like Henry Sy and the Ayalas have started to do) with better-equipped, state-of-art moviehouses.
With the competition offered by television and the cable medium, they have to strive to lure audiences back to their erstwhile moviegoing activity. Perhaps the best way to do this is to book quality films and market them as such, which can be done with independent distribution that rewards quality viewing rather than surefire box-office returns.
The problems of the local movie industry, enormous as they are, will be resolved in time. Government subsidies will be necessary for promising filmmakers to fulfill their promise. A new breed of filmmakers–or at least those willing to embrace the new-will have to take the place of the old and the antiquarian.
Finally, a more enlightened breed of producers who are willing to take risks rather than stick to the rules. Finally, an audience who, like the critic, will be kept alive by the hope that someday, somehow, they will live to see the one good movie they have
If Philippine cinema must be saved, it must first deserve to live

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