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Gerardo de León




Few figures in cinema inspire such uniquely contradictory reactions as Filipino director Gerry de Leon. Revered in his home country as a national treasure and esteemed by the international critical establishment, De Leon is just as readily dismissed by unwitting cinephiles – and undoubtedly many of the same critics who champion him – as an anonymous hack.

This schism doesn’t represent a vehement divergence of opinion on his ability as a filmmaker, but stems from a confounding material conundrum: there’s a distinct, maddening paucity of available works from De Leon’s most fertile period, while a series of low-budget, independently produced, mostly American-funded and distributed films he began directing in the late 1950s are abundantly available.

At the time that De Leon took these latter projects on, the Hollywood-style Philippines studio system that had nurtured his early career – action specialists Premiere Productions in particular – was experiencing a meltdown analogous… read more


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