"ANG ANAK NI BROCKA" REVIEW BY BILLY BALBASTRO
"Lino Brocka, nakakalimutan na ng movie industry?"
Billy Balbastro, ABANTE
THE Year of the Indies, indeed. As Masahista comes home from its Locarno triumph and Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros raises funds for its late August stint in Montreal and Mga Pusang Gala is making good at the tills, actor-scriptwriter-director Sigfried Barros- Sanchez, after Lasponggols, comes up once more with Ang Anak ni Brocka. The title alone makes you sit up and take notice. You think you know what to expect at first, but later realize you don't even know what the filmmaker and his film are up to. Yes, it's about time that a film like this -- a pseudo-documentary on Lino Brocka -- must be made. At this time when his clones are inhabiting showbiz and the industry and its people are forgetting him. Sad, noh? Sigfried's "mockumentary" is most welcome and frankly, in spite of its length (more than two hours about a son who never surfaces at all), the film is enjoyable viewing for us. Innovative filmmaking! And now here I wish to thank Sigfried for personally bringing me down memory lane for my Brocka experience which lasted from very early 1960's to his death in May 1991. How long ago was that! The memories are vast and many: from the time I was freshman and PRO of Wilfrido Ma. Gerrero's UP Dramatic Club during the early days at UP of Boots Anson Roa, Jose Ma. Velez and Amelia Perez who became Miss Caltex much later to the time Zenaida Latorre, Boy de Guia, Ched Gonzales did PR jobs for his films, Tinimbang ka Ngunit Kulang, Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa, Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules… Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Insiang. From the time, he quit UP and joined the Mormons in Hawaii, to the time he worked in Subic and later with filmmaker Eddie Romero (who became a National Artist for Cinema later than him) to the years he made some dozen films with Lea, with Aling Toreng and Mrs. Emilia Blas. Yes, Lea honed Lino -- from Wanted: Perfect Mother with Boots, Dante and Liza Lorena through Santiago, Cadena de Amor and the last Chrysanthemums filmed almost entirely in Japan. All these we missed in Sigfried's piece, which is just a search of the boy, a search in us, in the first place. * * * I have to salute Sigfried's narrative skills to make his core of a story entertaining. Especially to me who knew Brocka in his student days, even before showbiz and PETA claimed him. Ang Anak ni Brocka which was shown in the Cinema One festival late last month made an ingenious use of the struggle for ratings and network war. As its synopsis in capsule says: "It is about a group of investigative journalists from a sub-par TV station who accidentally scores a scoop that a 21-year-old boy is looking around for his identity… he claims to be the son of the late director Lino Brocka, a known gay filmmaker." We appreciate cameo appearances of the stars Brocka made -- Christopher de Leon, Bembol Roco and Phillip Salvador plus Gina Alajar and Joonee Gamboa. The brilliant use of the search for a father and the search of identity along with the current showbiz issues of the day -- ratings, boldies, network war -- makes Ang Anak ni Brocka an engrossing experience. Even though it carries repetitive visuals and faces, information and opinion. I suspect that someone told Sigfried not to "search and interview Boy C. de Guia" who was Lino's best friend and manager for a time. I miss too even a line of information that he was a Constitutional Convention delegate during Cory's time who signed with his blood like a few others. But beyond his films -- if really those investigative journalists of sub-par TV network do their homework -- Lino's legacy to the Filipino nation as well as artists is his amendment of the freedom of speech and of the press in our Constitution. He moved to add "_expression" to the whole provision and we know that "freedom of _expression" goes beyond the press and speech to include painting, sculpture, cinema and even stage plays and shows. In the film's search for Brocka's son and our identity, Sigfried tries to make a search of Brocka's identity too. It would have been better -- and more enjoyable to us who know him well -- to have touched on this. Some people we miss in the movie: If Benn and Bibsy are there with Marra, why not Haydee (Yorac) and Winnie Collas (Monsod) who know Lino too? At UP. Also, Sig's movie missed out on Lino and his case on Kapit Sa Patalim which is now a leading case on the powers and duties of the MTRCB -- to review and classify, not to censor or cut off scenes -- even up to now. When Lino and producer Tony Gonzales of the movie which went to Cannes and selected by the British Film Institute best film in 1985, I remember that Atty. Rene Saguisag and Atty. Haydee Yorac were among his counsels. And he won! I know that my column is winding and long like Sig's Ang Anak ni Brocka. Pero cute naman, di ba? As a columnist, I just want to say after this discourse: Good work and congratulations, Sig! Sana mapanood ito ng lahat. Kelan kaya ipalalabas iyan sa commercial theaters. Abangan.