The UP Film Institute (UPFI), in cooperation with the International Circle of Online Noranians (ICON), will hold free screenings of Sa Likod ng Himala, a movie-in-the-making documentary on Ishmael Bernal’s masterpiece Himala (ECP, 1982), fittingly at the UPFI Bernal Gallery on December 16, 2008 (Tuesday), starting at 7 pm.
In Super 8mm format, this 20-minute documentary was made by the in-house staff of the former UP Film Center (now expanded into the UP Film Institute). It features a rare footage of Bernal in action during the filming of the movie’s momentous stampede scene. The UPFI has preserved the original 26-year-old reel of the film in its archives in almost pristine state—a miracle of sorts
This one-night-only event is meant to honor the film Himala, starring Superstar Nora Aunor and penned by Ricky Lee, for winning the CNN APSA Viewers’ Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time, presented recently at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Screen Awards held in Queensland, Australia (see video).
This special tribute, a surprise year-ender for the UPFI, has been planned even before Himala got the CNN APSA award. “The fact that this Bernal film has been shortlisted with the works of world cinema masters like Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, Wong Kar-wai, and Ang Lee,” said UPFI Programming Director Nonoy Lauzon, “is a great feat by itself.”
Described by critic Alfred Yuson as “definitely world class,” Himala holds the distinction of opening the 2nd Manila International Film Festival in 1983. It was handpicked by Berlin festival director Moritz de Hadeln, no less, to be part of the competition film selection of Berlin International Film Festival in the same year, the first and only Filipino film so far that competed for the Golden Bear. It then went on to be screened in key Russian cities—Moscow, Kiev, and Alma-ata—before it went to the Chicago International Film Festival where it won the Bronze Hugo Award for Best Feature Film.
Himala has remained as one of National Artist Ishmael Bernal’s most exhibited films in both local and international film events. From the ’80s to the current decade, it has been shown in world’s key cities such as Taipei, Bangkok, Tokyo, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Vienna, and New York. This year, Himala was included in the programs of Berlin Hot Shots Film Festival and Paris Film Festival.
The Bernal Gallery on the same day will showcase a mini Himala exhibit, organized by the International Circle of Online Noranians. The group will also conduct a short program honoring the film and some of the people behind it. In between screenings of the documentary, ICON will also hold activities such as film discussion and forum with distinguished guests.