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Film and Video in the Philippines


Philippine cinema industry has produced world-class directors, talents, and titles. Ironically, its survival is in doubt. Industry experts believe the only way out is to export beyond the Philippine market. Production costs are escalating, but the local market remains stagnant.


The movie industry is organized along sectoral and guild interests. There are guilds for movie producers, artists, directors, other creative talents and craftsmen -- all of which have federated under a self-policing organization called the Film Academy of the Philippines. There are also associations for movie distributors and exhibitors.

Alarmed at the precarious state of the local movie industry, the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association (PMPPA) and the Movie Producers Distributors Association of the Philippines (MPDAP) recently identified some factors seen to restrict the growth of the industry. These include:

  1. Escalating costs of film production --especially in the face of the current economic crisis sweeping Asia.

  2. Exhorbitant taxes -- these are onerous and numerous, making the industry among the most heavily taxed in Asia if not the world; among such taxes are the amusement tax, culture tax, flood tax, and tax on raw materials.

  3. Falling box-office receipts of domestic films -- local movies are losing out to bigger-budgeted foreign films.

  4. Film censorship -- the censors body has been accused of arbitrary and too much film censorship to the extent of stunting the artistic development and economic growth of the local movie industry.

  5. Film piracy -- high-tech film pirates deprive legitimate producers of potential income. Piracy forms include unauthorized airing, exhibition, and distribution of films in CAT-TV networks, video theaters, buses, hotels, restaurants, ships, etc., and video reproduction and retail establishments.

  6. "Star system" -- some superstars charge as much as P3-P4 million, in addition to ancillary rights and other fringe benefits, eating up a big chunk of a normal production budget of P15 million.

  7. Cable-TV -- a formidable new opponent making inroads into the traditional domain of movies.


It is projected that the economic crunch on local movie production will eventually result in trimming down the number of production houses into four big ones. Meantime, the current field includes the following:

  • Cinema 16/35
  • Four Aces Films
  • Four N Films
  • Libran Films
  • Merdeka Films
  • Neo Films
  • Octoarts Films
  • Premiere Enterprises
  • Regal Films
  • Reyna Films
  • Seiko Films
  • Solar Films
  • Star Cinema
  • Viva Films


Filipino movie-making caliber has been world-class as early as the 1950s, to wit:

  1. Genghis Khan, produced by Manuel Conde in early 1950s, was shown at an international film festival and became the basis for a Hollywood movie.

  2. Siete Infantes de Lara, also by Conde, inspired another Hollywood hit, The Magnificent Seven

  3. Insiang, a 1977 drama by noted director Lino Brocka, created waves at the Cannes Film Festival. This was followed by other Brocka classics like Bona, Jaguar, Kapit sa Patalim/Bayan Ko, and Orapronobis.

  4. Filipino action king Fernando Poe Jr. in 1950s co-starred with Jack Mahoney in the Hollywood film Walls of Hell, while Luz Valdez appeared with Jeffrey Hunter in Universal Pictures' No Man is an Island.

  5. The Flor Contemplacion Story, starring superstar Nora Aunor in a Viva production, won the Best Picture and Best Actress trophies at the Egypt International Film Festival. It has been shown all over the world.

  6. The recent Inagaw Mo ang Lahat sa Akin (Harvest Home), by Reyna Films, directed by Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, was adjudged best film at the 1996 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Sources: Philippine Information Agency,
The Fookien Times 1997 Philippines Yearbook
Posted: 21 May 1998

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