When “Manila by Night,” hailed as one of Ishmael Bernal’s masterpieces, came out in 1980, former First Lady Imelda Marcos asked the title to be changed to “City After Dark.” You have to remember it premiered during the height of martial law and the movie mirrored the realities of living under an authoritarian government: unemployment, housing shortage, drug addiction, and prostitution—much to the ire of the late dictator.[READ: Stop saying that artists thrived during martial law]
The film follows the lives of different characters played by stellar Filipino actors top billed by Charito Solis, Cherie Gil, Rio Locsin, Alma Moreno, Lorna Tolentino, and Bernardo Bernardo, who won Gawad Urian Best Actor for his portrayal of a gay lover.
It was heavily censored with many scenes cut, and eventually banned for export. In 2020, it was restored to 4K through efforts of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), which later premiered the restoration through online streaming as part of its Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino lineup.
Just in time for Pride Month, the FDCP is once again screening the queer classic at Cinematheque Centres in Manila, Davao, Iloilo, Nabunturan, and Negros on June 26—for free.
Part of FDCP’s “PeliKULAYa” showcase, “Manila by Night” will be screened alongside international titles from the U.S. (“Moonlight” (Dir. Barry Jenkins)), Ireland (“Dating Amber” (Dir. David Freyne)) and Canada (“Love, Scott” (Dir. Laura Marie Wayne)), as well as short films from our very own independent filmmakers.
The short films lineup includes “Alingasngas ng mga Kuliglig” (Dir. Vahn Leinard Pascual), “Love in the Ungodly Hour” (Dir. Bradley Jason Pantajo), “Dikit” (Dir. Gabriela Serrano), “Gulis” (Dir. Kyle Jumayne Francisco), “Noontime Dram” (Dir. Kim Timan), and “Nang Maglublob Ako sa isang Mangkok ng Liwanag” (Dir. Kukay Zinampan).
You can also catch award-winning queer films “Happy Together” (Dir. Wong Kar Wai), “Girl” (Dir. Lukas Dhont), “Metamorphosis” (Dir. J.E. Tiglao), “Billy and Emma” (Dir. Sam Lee), “The Boy Foretold by the Stars” (Dir. Dolly Dulu), and “Mamu: And a Mother Too“ (Dir. Rodina Singh) at PeliKULAYa with tickets priced at P150 for Filipino films and P200 for international titles.
Manila moviegoers may register to get their tickets at bit.ly/CCManilaTickets, while regional viewers can just go to the nearest Cinematheque Centre in their area.