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Restored in 2015 by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and the Film Development Council of the Philippines.
4K scan. Colour grading supervised by Pierre Rissient.
Introduced by Cecilia Cenciarelli.
Viewed at Sala Scorsese (Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato) with English subtitles and e-subtitles in Italian, 28 June 2015
Il Cinema Ritrovato catalogue and website: Lino Brocka: "Insiang is, first and foremost, a character analysis: a young woman raised in a miserable neighborhood. I need this character to recreate the ‘violence’ stemming from urban overpopulation, to show the annihilation of a human being, the loss of human dignity caused by the physical and social environment and to stress the need of changes these life conditions [...]. My characters always react through fighting. I have conceived Insiang like an immoral story: two women share the same man, the daughter avenges herself and, in the end, she reveals herself: she had conspired to kill her mother’s lover without having never loved him, so that the murder was, in fact, unnecessary. Censorship refused this ending." (Lino Brocka)
Pierre Rissient: "In 1977 I was in Sydney for the film festival. Before going home, I zigzagged my way back through Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong-Kong, Manila and Seoul, to discover a new filmmaker and an unknown film: Insiang by Lino Brocka. When Insiang was released on December 17, 1976, it did not do well, and led to the collapse of CineManila, the company founded by Brocka in 1974 after the extraordinary success of Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang. The shooting of Insiang began on December 1st and lasted 11 days. Knowing these dates is important as they reveal the extreme urgency he felt, and his unique, authentic desire to make this film."
"Insiang also presents an unusual, brilliant mise-en-scène which shows the characters being torn apart by passion, by a sort of ardent energy."
"I am very pleased that, two years after Manila in the Claws of Light, we are able to see another estoration of a Brocka film. I still remember the excitement, along rue Antibes, surrounding the
screening of Insiang at the Quinzaine de Réalisateurs, in 1978. That was a very fulfilling and emotional experience, and I’m sure the same will be true today." (Pierre Rissient) Il Cinema Ritrovato catalogue and website
AA: A powerful naturalistic view about life in the slums of Manila, full of life and violence. In this world men have become demoralized, and women remain carriers of responsibility in Mutter Courage fashion.
A tragic story about a broken family. The father has left the family to its own devices, mother Tonya and daughter Insiang toiling all day long to make ends meet. Insiang wants to marry Bebot and is reserved about his advances, sensing that the guy will only take advantage of her and then abandon her, which is exactly what happens. Meanwhile, the red-blooded mother Tonya takes a young lover, Dado, boss of a gang of hoods, who decides to take Insiang, as well, "under his care". The story turns into a revenge tragedy as Insiang, abused by all three, wreaks horrible vengeance on them.
The performances are compelling but the most powerful asset of the movie is its atmosphere, its milieux: the traffic, the slaughterhouse, the fish market, the overcrowded apartment, the garage, the cinema (where everybody is focused on making out), the love hotel, the prison.
Insiang wants to transcend her circumstances ("I don't want to end up like my mother"), and there is even a decent guy, Nanding, who proposes to her and wants to take her out of her misery, but at that point Insiang has been brutalized to revenge mentality. What happens to her soul is the deepest tragedy.
There is a compelling drive in Lino Brocka's movie. He knows to use a moving camera. Recurrent motifs include a mosquito net and "letting water from the faucet fill the drum" for a bath (a sign for mother's love session with her boy toy).
The colour grading has been beautifully conducted to convey the sense of tropical heat and humidity. Warm colours look good in this digital restoration.