Andrew Leavold Lecture: 'Last Tangos In Manila: Bold, Bomba, Censorship and Scandal under Marcos'

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2011-06-23 14:00
2011-06-23 16:30
Etc/GMT+8

Time: Thursday, June 23 · 2:00pm - 4:30pm
Location: CMC AUDITORIUM (Plaridel Hall)
University of the Philippines
Quezon City, Philippines

"Last Tangos In Manila: Bold, Bomba, Censorship and Scandal under Marcos"

ABSTRACT: Much of the credit for the boom in both the export and domestic film markets from the late Sixties to the mid Eighties must be attributed to President Ferdinand and First Lady Imelda Marcos, whose combined vision for Philippines' cinema extended far beyond their government's invenstment in cultural infrastructure. In fact, his was the first administration which exploited the medium to its fullest. Marcos' own folklore states his presidency was won by a movie (1965's Iginuhit Ng Tadhana), and was almost torn down by a movie (the controversial Maharlika [1971]). The growing schism between morality and sexual pragmatism widened as film production peaked during the Bomba era of 1970-1972: producers scrambled over each other to make an obscene amount of money during the short-lived sex film craze - even to the point of inserting hardcore footage into films playing in the provinces, outside the government and the Catholic Church's watchful gaze.

The Bomba era would cease abruptly with Marcos' declaration of Martial Law in September 1972, and during the next ten years the official line was no on-screen sex and certainly no sedition, until the inception of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP). From January 1982 until Marcos' regime was ousted in 1986, the ECP was a funding body and thinktank with the Marcos' Western-minded and classically-educated daughter Imee as Director-General. The ECP offered the illusion of complete artistic freedom at a time of great political turmoil; for some filmmakers, that freedom translated into a primal outpouring of sex and violence back onto the Manila Film Centre's screen, as cineastes wrestled each other to show their own Last Tangos in Manila, and the second wave of soft-core and hard-core pornography - the Bold era - had arrived with a vengeance.

Andrew Leavold's talk examines the role of sex in Philippines cinema as an abstract expression of liberation and tool of political control under Marcos, as well as the varying levels of censorship and collusion from the Marcos administration. The talk takes a historiographical overview of the two erotic explosions in Philippines' cinema, the Bomba era (1970-1972) and the height of the Bold era (1983-1986), two intense moments of local film production effectively bookending the period of Martial Law. The talk also considers the seemingly paradoxical nature of censorship under Marcos and his family's own hand in the Bold Explosion via the ECP, and reevaluates the term "exploitation cinema" when examining the careers of those on-screen performers caught in the eye of a cultural hurricane.

ANDREW LEAVOLD is a published author, researcher, film festival curator, musician, TV presenter, occasional digital filmmaker, and above all, unrepentant and voracious fan of eccentric and lowbrow cinema. Leavold's latest film project is a guerrilla documentary shot in Manila; The Search For Weng Weng (currently in post-production) chronicles Leavold's quest to find the truth behind the midget Filipino James Bond. His research formed the basis of Mark Hartley's documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010), on which Leavold is Associate Producer. A PhD student at Brisbane’s Griffith University, Leavold’s work is soon to be published as a book entitled “Bamboo Gods And Bionic Boys: A History Of Pulp Filmmaking In The Philippines”.

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