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Hilda Koronel as the title character in Lino Brocka's "Insiang".

Brocka classic to be shown at 53rd NYFF

After it premiered in the Classics section of the Cannes Film Festival in May and shown at the World Premieres Film Festival Philippines (WPFFP) in June, the newly restored version of Lino Brocka’s classic film Inisang will be screened as part of the Revivals section of the 53rd New York Film Festival (NYFF) at the famed Film Society of Lincoln Center on September 28. 

This will be Insiang’s second run at the NYFF, as it was part of a retrospective during the celebrated festival’s 44th edition in 2006.

The NYFF, a unique film festival that presents no prizes and prides itself in not being a commercial or industry event, is known for its curation, championing high aesthetic standards in its selections.

Producer Ruby Tiong Tan, who gave the film rights to the National Film Archives of the Philippines (NFAP), attended Insiang’s New York premiere nearly a decade ago.

In the searing 1976 melodrama, the title heroine, played by Hilda Koronel, is raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and then blamed for provoking the act and forced out of her own home.

Insiang is, first and foremost, a character analysis,” Brocka wrote about the film, heralded by many as one of his best. “I need this character to recreate the ‘violence’ stemming from urban overpopulation, to show the annihilation of a human being (and) the loss of human dignity caused by the physical and social environment….”

Insiang was selected for this year’s Cannes Classics section as homage to the film’s international premiere in 1978, when it was featured in the French film festival’s Directors’ Fortnight section. The restored film premiered on May 16 at the Buñuel Theatre to a packed audience comprised of international film experts, enthusiasts and fans of Philippine cinema.

When Insiang first premiered at Cannes, it earned great critical acclaim and led to Koronel being featured in Le Monde magazine. Even then, Insiang was well on its way to becoming the timeless classic that it is today.

Insiang, in restored cinematic glory, then had its Philippine premiere as WPFFP’s opening film on June 24. The film also launched the newly added Classics section of the same festival.

Tiong Tan’s decision to turn over the film rights to the NFAP catalyzed the restoration process, which was finally completed in early 2015 by Cineteca Di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata. The project was spearheaded through funding provided by the Film Development Council of the Philippines and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.

The 53rd NYFF will run from September 25 to October 11.

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