Himala, a film directed by the late National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal during the martial law regime in 1982, was chosen by an online poll of the Cable News Network (CNN) as the Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time.
The film—produced by the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines then headed by First Daughter Imee R. Marcos—was among several Asian films that competed in the CNN poll for its Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA).
The other films included Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China); Mohsen Makmalbaf’s Gabbeh (Iran); Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (Australia); Wai-Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak’s Infernal Affairs (Hongkong); Park Chan-Wook’s Old Boy (South Korea); Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (India); and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (Japan).
The CNN website announced last Tuesday, Nov. 11, that Himala emerged as the clear favorite in the poll and has elicited “an avalanche of raving positivism.”
A formal announcement was also made during APSA ceremonies in Queensland, Australia on the same day.
An earlier post at the CNN website cited the film for its “austere camerawork, haunting score and accomplished performances that sensitively portray the harsh social and cultural conditions that people in the Third World endure.”
As poll topnotcher, Himala also earned the Viewers’ Choice Award, one of the APSA honors, as based on votes cast by thousands of film fans around the world.
In an interview with Inquirer’s Bayani San Diego Jr., Ricardo Lee, the film’s scriptwriter, as this to say about Himala:
“Although the movie swept that year’s Metropolitan Manila Film Festival, it received mixed reviews. Critics even complained that Nora (Aunor who was the film’s lead actress) didn’t exert much effort in her acting, which was precisely the point.
“Director Bernal constantly reminded the cast and crew to do everything with subtlety. Bernal would always tell the cinematographer (Sergio Lobo) that he didn’t want too much camera movement. He wanted the film to look simple. Minimalist.
“The film only had a P3 million budget, of which P1 million went to Nora’s talent fee. The rest of the cast came from the theater. Their talent fees were no as high as those of movie actors.”
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