SPANISH photographer Óscar Fernandez Orengo’s book “44 Cineastas Filipinos” reaffirms in glossy print what’s common knowledge in world cinema: Philippine cinema has entered another exciting golden-age.

The book, published by the Instituto Cervantes de Manila features established and emerging voices of Philippine cinema, many of them winners of film festival abroad. It boasts of trilingual texts in English, Filipino and Spanish. It includes short filmographies of Filipino filmmakers by writer-teacher Shirley Chua.

Instituto Cervantes Director José Ma. Rodriguez said the books fills the lack of publications in Filipino films.

“There’s nothing written about them (Filipino filmmakers) in Philippine libraries,” Rodriguez said.

The idea of producing a coffee-table book on Filipino filmmakers came to Orengo in 2008, when he visited Manila for an exhibition at the Instituto Cervantes de Manila featuring photographs of Spanish and Latin American filmmakers, which he had taken himself.

“I remember a friend talking about a new breed of Filipino film directors whose works were successful and controversial in numerous international film festivals,” he said. “That piqued my curiosity immensely.”

Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish Cultural agency, was also interested and bankrolled the project.

Special portraits

Thomasian Jim Libiran is surrounded by the cast of his Cinemalaya 2007 best full-length film “Tribu,” which won the Film of the Future award in the 2008 Paris Cinematheque. The odd bunch is composed of real-life street gang members from Tondo.

On the other hand, Philets alumnus Gil Portes, who is known for being the only Filipino director with three films chosen as the Philippines’ official entry to the Oscars, is seen beside one of the gates to Quiapo church.

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CFAD alumnus and Cannes Film Festival Best Director Brillante Mendoza poses in his black hoody in a pastel-colored minimalist space.

Another UST Fine Arts alumnus Cesar Hernando, the production designer of Mike de Leon’s Sister Stella L, is seen into the works of his students at the University of the Philippines.

Other images show Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. in the slums, Maryo J. delos Reyes behind a statue with his friendly gaze and Lav Diaz playing street basketball.

The filmographies reveal interesting information. For example, writer Jose Javier Reyes wrote the entire script of Batang PX (1997) for only three days while National Artist for Cinema Eddie Romero started writing for Sampaguita Pictures at the tender age of 17.

Distributed with assistance from Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional for Development (AECID), the Spanish Agency for Cultural Cooperation, the book was launched by Rodriguez, Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq, and National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José last July 5 at Instituto Cervantes in Ermita, Manila.

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