A Home For Philippine Cinema: Cinematheque Centre Manila

The story of Philippine cinema is one of the most interesting, a lot of times tragic, stories out there in the realm of world cinema. Back in the day, Philippine cinema was one of the pioneering film industries in Asia, churning out hundreds of film every year during the 1950s to the early 1960s (the First Golden Age of Philippine Cinema) to a constant output of quality films during the 1970s to early 1980s. (the Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema) Today, Philippine cinema is struggling to get up on its feet once again in the midst of various problems such as piracy, low output, and thousands of films made in the past that are now lost thanks to a lack of a national film archive.

In the midst of these problems, it is good to know that at least one of these issues has now been addressed: a facility for a national film archive that would help preserve some of the remaining gems of Philippine cinema (some surviving films are in the possession of ABS-CBN’s film archives, FYI) as well as a place that Philippine cinema can call its own: the Cinematheque Centre of the FDCP or Film Development Council of the Philippines.

A monument of acclaimed film director and National Artist Gerardo de Leon graces the entrance of Cinematheque Centre Manila

Cinematheque Centre is actually a network of venues in different parts of the country administered by the FDCP. Here in the metropolis, Cinematheque Centre Manila is located along T.M. Kalaw Street, right at the old venue of the Instituto Cervantes (which has relocated to Tower One in Makati but is planning to open a facility within Fort Santiago very soon) and beside the historic Casino Español de Manila.

Opened on December 15. 2015, Cinematheque Centre Manila aims to be the city’s hub where people can appreciate not only quality Philippine cinema but also those of other countries as well. While there are places like the Mowelfund complex that is dedicated to Philippine cinema, Cinematheque Centre houses a number of facilities dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and development of cinema as an art form in itself.

Perhaps the most important facility is the office of the National Film Archives of the Philippines, (NFAP) an attached body under the FDCP tasked in the restoration and digitization of surviving Filipino films in its repository.

National Film Archives of the Philippines (photo courtesy of the Film Development Council of the Philippines)

National Film Archives of the Philippines (photo courtesy of the Film Development Council of the Philippines)

There is also the 100-seater Cinematheque Theater which regularly showcases classic and contemporary Filipino films, as well as films from other countries as a way to better appreciate cinema as a whole.

Cinematheque Theater Manila (photo courtesy of the Film Development Council of the Philippines)

Cinematheque Theater Manila (photo courtesy of the Film Development Council of the Philippines)

Another interesting area in Cinematheque Centre Manila is the Museo ng Pelikulang Pilipino. It’s not actually a separate facility of its own in the venue that would make it a full-fledged museum. At the moment, the museum itself is just a hall outside the theatre. There is not much to see in the museum as well apart from old film equipment, other artifacts and photos, especially those that belonged to the greats of Philippine cinema from film pioneer Jose Nepomuceno to the master director Lino Brocka. Despite the dearth of items in the museum, in a way, the museum does the job in introducing the viewers to the story of Philippine cinema.

Jose Nepomuceno, film producer and acknowledged as the “Father of Philippine Cinema”

Film director and National Artist Lino Brocka

The cinematheque also offers classroom venues for talks or classes, a library dedicated to Southeast Asian cinema, a cafe, as well as a souvenir shop that sells various media pertaining to cinema, which also includes DVDs of films restored by the NFAP.

Whether you are an avid or casual film lover of quality films, then do check out Cinematheque Centre Manila one of these days. Do check out their website for more infomation, especially on the films that will be screened there.

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