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Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Indie Filmmakers Bullish On Revival of Cebuano Cinema

- Ron Heri Tan of Cebu Filmmakers Society -

With the current struggle our local Filipino Film Industry, in general, is facing, it would be difficult to put a positive stance on the part of the filmmakers whether they will be able to reverse the situation. The film piracy, quality of finished products, and the scarcity of financiers who are willing to take a risk in this type of business endeavor are just some of the things that have somehow put skeptics to a more defiant influence in the industry.

Even before this current situation of the Tagalog Film Industry, the Cebuano Cinema has been long forgotten now, as far as production, consumption, and marketing is concerned. But is it really gone? Is it really dead beyond re-resurrection? Was the earlier demise of the Cebuano Cinema a foreboding for the Tagalog Film Industry, which is facing a difficult stage right now? Or isn’t this so-called “mother industry” partly to be blamed, too, for the death of its subordinate, for not allowing it to grow? For not sharing the opportunities to explore the wider horizons of world cinema? For not supporting it and instead contribute in its extinction by ignoring its importance?

Furthermore, was the latest attempt to re-enliven interest brought by the success, in terms of awards, of the film “Panaghoy Sa Suba” of Director / Ace Actor Cesar Montano not enough proof that the Cebuano film can be another alternative cinema worth doing and seeing?  Or isn’t Mr. Montano partly to be blamed also for declaring openly and loudly about losing a lot of money because of the project, thereby scaring potential investors in producing  another Cebuano or other regional films, for that matter?

In the beginning of cinema in the country, Cebu, being the oldest city in the archipelago, was not far behind Manila as the site of the country’s film screenings, and eventually in film producing. “Ang Aswang,” the first Tagalog Talkatone was shown in Manila in 1932 while our very own “Bertoldo Ug Balodoy” was shown in the first class movie house Vision Theater in 1938-1939.

The First Death of the Cebuano Cinema was during the outbreak of World War II, but it recovered in the 1950’s which is now being considered as its first revival and its Golden Era. During this time ninety five percent of the Cebuano films earned profit.

Second Death happened in the later part of the 50’s but second resurrection happened in the late 60’s. In 1969, the film “Badlis Sa Kinabuhi” won Best Actress Award for Ms. Gloria Sevilla in both the FAMAS and the 16th Asian Film Festival in Jakarta and was entered in the Berlin Film Festival of that same year.

From the 80’s where only a few number of films were produced, including the film “Manok Ni San Pedro,” which was shot in 16mm film and converted to 35mm, until the making of “Panaghoy Sa Suba” in 2004, and its showing in 2005, this period has been considered as the longest period of dormancy, and might be considered as the Third Death of the Cebuano Cinema.

Fortunately, there are some filmmakers, who strongly believe that another resurrection is now inevitable. For what basis and reasons, and to find out and for you to share your opinion, join us in the HAMILING BINILIN (HAMBIN)’s  December Lecture Forum entitled: “Sineng Sinebuano: Kagahapon Ug Karon, Unsa’y Kaugmaon?” (Cebuano Cinema: The Past, The Present, And What The Future Can Bring”) at the Cebu Cathedral Museum, December 15, 2007, Saturday, 4:30 P. M.

This is with the help of the History Department of the University of San Carlos, the Cebuano Studies Center, and the Cebu Cathedral Museum.

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