Philippine Cinema: 1960s-1990s
The situation of Philippine Cinema has seen major dramatic changes after the 1950s which is considered by critics and film watchers/historians to be the Golden Age of Filipino film-making. During the 1960s, films were characterized by rampant commercialism with James Bond and Western knock offs, bomba (soft porn) films, and musical films. The studio systems came under siege from the growing labor movement, which resulted in labor-management conflicts.
Touted as the second golden age of Philippine cinema, the 1970s was the period of the avant-garde filmmakers. Local producers and filmmakers ceased to produce pictures in black and white. But on 1972, the Philippines was placed under the martial law where films were used as propaganda vehicles. President Ferdinand Marcos and his technocrats sought to regulate film-making through the creation of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures (BCMP). Prior to the start of filming, finished scripts were required to be submitted to the Board and incorporate the “ideology” of the New Society Movement like a new sense of discipline, uprightness and love of country. Annual festivals were revived, and the bomba films as well as political movies critical of the Marcos administration were banned. Despite the censorship, exploitation of sex and violence onscreen continued to assert itself. Under martial law, action films usually append an epilogue like claims that social realities depicted had been wiped out with the establishment of the New Society. The notorious genre of sex or bomba films still existed but in a milder, less overt way. The 1970s also paved way to the ascendancy of a new breed of directors like Cannes Film Festival-nominated Lino Brocka.
Around the 1980s and 1990s, most Filipino films were mass-produced with quality sacrificed for commercial success. Storylines were unimaginative and predictable, comedy was slapstick, and the acting was either mediocre or overly dramatic. Producers were antipathetic to new ideas or risk-taking. Instead they resorted to formulas that worked well in the past that cater to standards and tastes of the masses. Teen-oriented films, massacre films and soft porn composed the majority of the genre produced. The film industry prospered and produced more than 200 films a year. Majority of them were pit-pit films, shot in seven to ten days and aimed at quickly recouping their minimal costs. Attendance in theaters rose and several productions became huge successes. New laws were also introduced that gave more rights to women, causing several female directors to launch careers. Aside from competition with Hollywood films, the Asian Financial Crisis, escalating cost of film production, exorbitant taxes, arbitrary and too much film censorship, high-tech film piracy, and rise of cable television further contributed for the trimming down of production costs of film outfits that resulted to falling box-office receipts of domestic films, and the eventual precarious state of the local film industry.
Philippine Cinema: 2000s-present
The era saw a dramatic decline of the Philippine movie industry. Hollywood films dominated mainstream cinema as they ever did, and fewer than twenty quality local films were being produced and shown yearly. Many producers and production houses later stopped producing films after losing millions of pesos. However at the same time, a new sense of excitement and trend enveloped the industry with the coming of digital and experimental cinema. This has proven very successful for indie filmmakers such as Brillante Mendoza and Eric Matti and shows the growing popularity as well as high demand of digital filmmaking in Philippines, which allows for bigger space and free creativity by veteran as well as new directors.
Philippine Cinema: Action films
The revival of local action films was noted when the crime drama Manila Kingpin was released in Christmas last year. Since then, investors seem to make more effort by putting forth more productions in work. Next up is an action horror titled Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles and artsy crime film OJT (On the Job Training), both by Eric Matti. If successful, these films could certainly encourage more directors to produce more action films and revive the once dying genre in the near future. Check out videos below.