“Two unlikely hits this year have thrust independent Philippine cinema into the global spotlight and shown, filmmakers say, that freedom of expression remains in the country despite the shadow of martial law that’s currently hanging over it.
Jun Robles Lana’s “dramedy” Die Beautiful was a surprise commercial success following its general release during the Metro Manila film festival in December. A five-week run in cinemas was, says the director, unprecedented for an independent film that explores the life of a transgender character.
Die Beautiful’s success comes as Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte threatens to extend martial law countrywide, after imposing it across the troubled island of Mindanao. This has brought back memories of the reign of Ferdinand Marcos, when martial law was imposed from 1972 to 1981 and the Philippine film industry found itself heavily censored.
“Censorship was a big issue for us during martial law so that is something that we are allergic to,” says Lana.
The filmmaker says that to date independent Philippine filmmakers have been able to explore society at will – a notion supported by Liza Dino, chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. …”
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