I was in the Philippines for five weeks this summer–easily my longest stay (in fact, I unintentionally overstayed my visa and was heavily fined!). So the trip had three major components:
No.1: I further developed my connections with Filipino film culture, giving two different talks on early cinema in the Philippines. The first was at University of San Carlos in Cebu, an event that was largely organized by Misha Anissimov along with his colleague and (just about) NYU Ph.D. Paul Grant. A few of you may have seen the poster on Facebook, but here it is again:
I got some good-natured ribbing from friends. Samantha Solidum, who designed the poster, chose a photo from my website for the poster. Someone suggested it was from 20 years ago. If only: it was taken it Los Angeles while I was working on Hearts and Minds.
As it turned out, the first film that most of the students saw for their film studies course of study was my documentary Before the Nickelodeon. So after I finished my presentation and we had a question and answer period, I assumed the event had concluded and it was time for dinner. But no one left. Now it was time for the really important part of the evening: the photo ops. (For the uninformed, photo ops are a crucial element of Filipino culture.) We began with a group portrait (here is one of many, many versions of this moment).
And then it got serious. Samantha also made a banner version of the poster in which I became lifesize:
Cebu film culture is undergoing a remarkable revival. University of San Carlos has started an MA program in Film Studies–and is thinking about a Ph.D. Cebuano filmmaking of the independent variety is also flourishing.
The importance of film culture is one of the things shared by the Philippines and the United States. For instance, we are the only two countries that elected movie stars as presidents.
Manilla/Quezon City is the traditional center of Filipino film culture, with University of the Philippines-Dilman the intellectual center. My friend and colleague Nick Deocampo–mine and Threese’s shadkhn) now teaches there and arranged a reprise in the School of Mass Communication. Indeed, it was because of Nick that I wrote this paper some years ago (and soon to be published in his book). It was a smaller crowd but had its own salience. Nick, of course, did the introductions:
It proved a great opportunity to make the NYU-Filipino film connection as I met Benedict “Bono” Olgado, the first head of the National Film Archive of the Philippines and an NYU graduate:
And again one of many requisite group portraits with Nick, Bono, Joel David and Bliss Cua Lim (currently an Associate Professor at UC-Irvine):