Two films with contrasting views on the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos are released in theaters this week. One of them is Katips by Vincent Tañada, a musical that follows the story of martial law activists and their struggles throughout this turbulent time in history, while the other is Maid in Malacañang by controversial director Darryl Yap, who attempts to portray the Marcos’ perspective during their final days in Malacañang Palace at the height of the 1986 People Power Revolution.
With the movies’ box office performance yet to be seen, netizens are angry at the decision of Cinema ’76, a microcinema in Quezon City known for screening films that cater to moviegoers, to show both films in their intimate theater at the same time.
Cinema ’76 has a reputation for showing independent Filipino and foreign films that have been critically acclaimed, so many of its loyal patrons question its choice to direct a film which they call “gross historical distortion”.
The trailer for Maid in Malacañang got a lot of negative buzz for depicting Filipinos storming the gates of Malacañang Palace with torches during the People Power Revolution an angry lynching mob, images that do not match actual photos or historical records of the time.
The Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery, which served as a refuge for former President Cory Aquino during the period, also criticized the trailer for depicting the nuns playing mah jong with the former president, calling their portrayal “malicious” and “reprehensible.”
Cinema ’76 social posts were filled with comments urging the cinema to “tumindig ka” (take a stand) by not screening the controversial film.
“Cinema ’76 contributes to blatant historical revisionism,” said one.
By comparing it to Katips (which recently won several awards from the Philippine Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), another commenter wrote: “A film shows the struggle of the masses of the country at a certain time. The other shows a family (who caused said era) playing the victim and how they were the ones who were bullied by the Filipino masses. I know what I’m looking at.
“Normally I’d say they’re allowed to filter whatever they want, but this time it’s different. A supposedly independent movie house giving a platform to a movie trying to overhaul the history and to justify abuse and oppression under the guise of ‘hearing the other side of the story’ is different. They will participate in spreading camp propaganda,” another explained.
“Katips alone would have been good. But why do you need to have waste next to it? another asked.
Meanwhile, a handful of commentators have defended Cinema ’76, saying the theater has the right to show whatever films it chooses.
“It’s a cinema. It’s at their discretion to show what they want in their establishment. It’s up to you if you want to watch one or the other. Stop imposing your beliefs on the others,” one wrote.
Although Independent Cinema has offered no explanation as to why it decided to show the two diametrically opposed films at the same time, it may have something to do with its ownership. Cinema ’76 is owned by TBA Studios, which counts EA Rocha among its co-owners. EA Rocha is the father of Xandra Rocha, married to Luis Marcos-Araneta, son of Irene Marcos and Greggy Araneta.
Irene is the third child of Marcos Sr. and former first lady Imelda Marcos, and is portrayed by Ella Cruz in the film. The actress herself recently made headlines when she defended her role in the film, saying “the story is like Chismis (gossip).”
LILY: History is NOT like gossip: Historians take actress Ella Cruz to school for controversial comment