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Manila in the Claws of Light

Maynila Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag

The late, great Lino Brocka’s portrayal of a young labourer’s desperate search for his abducted girlfriend in the lower depths of Manila.


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  • Director Lino Brocka
  • Producers Miguel de Leon, Severino Manotok
  • Screenwriter Clodualdo del Mondo
  • With Bembel Roco, Hilda Koronel, Rafael Roco Jr, Lou Salbador Jr, Tommy Abuel, Jojo Abella
  • Philippines 1975
  • in Tagalog with English subtitles
  • 124 mins

The Philippine director Lino Brocka, who died aged 52 in a car accident, bestirred the 1978 Cannes audience with his low-budget ‘dirty’ film known then, confusingly, as Manila in the Claws of Darkness. Brocka, a lifelong activist against the Marcos dictatorship, adapted a story about a young farmer who comes to Manila to seek his girlfriend – abducted into prostitution – and survives as a labourer on dangerous, corrupt building sites. With energy, passion and inside knowledge, Brocka penetrated and exposed Manila’s seething urban maze to celebrate the humanity of the lower depths in his beleaguered country, where he was marginalised but protected by his fame abroad. Manila is a vital, unclassifiable film whose re-emergence and restoration (from original negatives deposited by Pierre Rissient in the BFI National Archive) we can gratefully attribute to the World Cinema Foundation.

Clyde Jeavons

Restored in 2013 by the WCF and the Film Development Council of the Philippines at Cineteca di Bologna/L'Immagine Ritrovata Lab., in association with LVN, Cinema Artists Philippines and Mike de Leon.

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