How 'Maynila' was restored

The fully-restored version of Lino Brocka’s “Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag” was the fourth Filipino film shown at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. We talked to Bono Olgado of the National Film Archives about the circumstances that led to it.

Take us a bit through the restoration. How did it start and how long did it take?

After Genghis Khan, we heard from the grapevine that Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation (WCF) was exploring the possibility of restoring another Southeast Asian film after the Indonesian film After the Curfew (1954) by Usmar Ismail in 2012, and that they had talked to the Asian Film Archive in Singapore, which had a print of Maynila courtesy of Mike De Leon. We got in touch with Douglas Laible of WCF through colleagues, and we started corresponding on the possibility of restoring a film together. We threw around a number of different titles to work on, but Doug had been talking with the Asian Film Archive (AFA) and also with Mike de Leon as early as the summer of 2012 regarding Maynila. Considering the significance of Lino Brocka’s oeuvre and the paucity of relatively good prints in circulation, we decided that his films would make excellent candidates for restoration. By then, it was between Maynila and Jaguar. But given the availability of workable elements of Maynila initially through AFA and Mike, we ultimately decided to push through with it. The restoration was done at the L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy, which the WCF regularly uses and where Genghis was restored. The actual restoration began in November. Mike de Leon personally oversaw color grading and subtitling.

Keep reading