Two Lost Films to be Screened at Pelikula at Lipunan Fest
2/9/2004 10:12:22 AM
The 11th Pelikula at Lipunan
film festival will kick off Wednesday, February 11 at the SM Megamall
Cinema with the screening of a Tagalog movie that dates back to 1937.
Entitled Zamboanga, the movie was directed by Eduardo
De Castro and stars
Fernando Poe Sr. and Rosa del Rosario.
Organized by the
Mowelfund Film Institute, the Pelikula at Lipunan festival was established
to help enlighten Filipino audiences on the role of cinema on
nation-building. This year, Pelikula at Lipunan offers new foreign films,
rediscovered classics and historical clues to the Philippines early
history as a nation struggling to be free. It is a fitting tribute to 85
years of the Filipino film industry, said festival director Nick
Deocampo during a media briefing.
As a salute to the past. the
organizers, which include Mowelfund stalwarts Eddie Romero and Boots Anson
Roa, have chosen to open the festival with Zamboanga. Deocampo said the 67
year-old movie was previously thought as irretrievably lost. He had
discovered it during a research mission in the US Library of Congress
which earlier acquired an almost mint condition copy from Finland.
The movie depicts the life of south sea divers and was shot in the
remote island of Jolo. Its two American producers, Eddie Tait and George
Harris managed to screen it only to audiences in New York and San
Francisco in 1937. Both producers, however, ran out of money due to
excessive taxes and the film disappeared into obscurity.
In a year
when glossy Hollywood productions like The Great Ziegfeld and Stage Door
dominated the movie scene, Zamboanga managed to win rave reviews from The
Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Spectator, among
Decoampo says the film was aimed for the American market
but after its premiere in San Diego and its screening in New York, nothing
has been heard of it. The film has for decades been considered a lost
film, one of the hundreds made before World War II that is irretrievably
lost, he said.
However, Deocampo found the film when he was on
a research trip in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. I was
surprised to be informed by a library staff, Zoran Sinobad, that there was
a a newly-acquired film about the Philippines and would I be interested to
look at it? I was told that the film was newly-struck from an original
print that came all the way from Finland. Interesting!
movie, the young Poe played a pearl fisher who marries the village chief's
daughter (played by Rosa del Rosario). Among the guests of their wedding
is a pirate who abducts the bride, inciting a tribal war. Fil-American
Eduardo de Castro directed
the cast that spoke in the Tausog and English
languages. Deocampo says the movie features underwater photography and
that the film processing chores boggles the mind with thoughts of the
sacrifices behind the nine month shooting.
Wrong movie at the
When Deocampo gleefully announced his find, he was
warned by colleagues that exhibiting a movie starring Fernando Poe Sr. in
an election year may be tantamount to politicking, especially since
Fernando Poe Jr. is running for President.
Politics was never in
my mind, declared Deocampo. Here we had a lost treasure that has
practically been given to us by the Library of Congress on a silver plate.
Normally it would have cost hundreds of thousands of pesos to obtain a
movie like that from the Library of Congress. What did they expect me to
do? Tell them, sorry we don't want the film, it's election year!
Fortunately, Deocampo discovered another lost film which he
deemed perfect for the festival and would equalize the politics. It
happens to be an omnibus film directed by three of the greatest directors
of the Philippines' Gerry de Leon, Eddie Romero and Lamberto Avellana.
The film is Tagumpay ng Mahirap, Deocampo proudly announced. It's the
biopic of our fifth President, Diosdado Macapagal. It shows how
Macapagal rose from being a provincial boy to become the President. This
one was discovered right under our noses, at the CCP film library!
With the fathers of two presidential candidates represented in one
vintage film each, Deocampo expects to have a smooth-sailing Pelikula at
Lipunan festival this year.