Friday, July 23, 2010

OBSESSED MUCH? ] Think you already live and breathe cinema? Here, meet SOFIA


In 1993, a group of professionals who were engaged in some form of archiving organized the Society of Film Archivists, the original name of SOFIA. Without funds, much less its own office and archiving facilities, the group members were fueled simply by their passion for film and their resolve to preserve the film heritage of the country.

SOFIA identified specific needs for the retrieval and restoration of endangered films. It also organized short-term training workshops in preservation and collection management, and offered to advice various institutions in their archiving programs. With the assistance coming from the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, SOFIA was able to program the restoration of some landmark films, including the first film produced by LVN in 1938-1939 and some key films by major filmmakers like Gerardo de Leon, Lamberto Avellana, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal.

Philippine cinema is almost a hundred years young. In Asia, Filipino filmmakers were among the pioneers, its film industry among the largest in the world in terms of output for a good number of decades.

Of the roughly 8,000 plus full-length films produced in the first century of local cinema, many have been irretrievably lost, rendering moot anyone's judgment as to their artistic merits. Just as bad are the forgotten status of numerous talented filmmakers from way back, whose best works and once promising careers have fallen off the radar film history.


This film series, called Overlooked, Underrated, aims to re-assess certain films and filmmakers, by taking a second look at their unjustly neglected bodies of work, and even restore a few reputations in the process. This will help to expand the repertoire of Philippine cinema, by going beyond the programming of the usual auteurs and masterpiece titles. There will be much to discover, and rediscover, by rounding up not the usual suspects.

For now, the initial batch of films/filmmakers will be limited to six. As more "lost" and neglected films come to the surface from here and other parts of the world, this film series will continue to run, without an expiry date. Happy re-viewing!

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