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A Year of Birthing: Best Films Released During My Birth Year 1989

by adrianmendizabal
A Year of Birthing: Best Films Released During My Birth Year 1989 by adrianmendizabal
Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989) – One of the best light-hearted Hayao I have seen, and I’ve seen it two years ago in my Hayao Miyazaki marathon Introduction Hello everyone! Adrian here. This project is somewhat inspired by a forum post here at MUBI.com by our dear demigod Mubi user, CEDRIC. What I want to do is to gather the best films released in 1989 from all parts of the world mirroring the artistic, political and critical upheaval of that time. I am pretty much curious about my birth year since it is temporally located in the most crucial times of modern history of the world. It also closes the 80s decades with a bang.… Read more


Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989) – One of the best light-hearted Hayao I have seen, and I’ve seen it two years ago in my Hayao Miyazaki marathon

Introduction

Hello everyone! Adrian here. This project is somewhat inspired by a forum post here at MUBI.com by our dear demigod Mubi user, CEDRIC. What I want to do is to gather the best films released in 1989 from all parts of the world mirroring the artistic, political and critical upheaval of that time. I am pretty much curious about my birth year since it is temporally located in the most crucial times of modern history of the world. It also closes the 80s decades with a bang. World cinema in the 80s is believed to be the rise of Asian Cinema and American independent filmmaking. Key directors like David Lynch and Soderberg emerged from America as leading voices of New American Cinema, while the Taiwanese New Wave is taking shape with Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-Hsien leading the movement. Philippine Cinema is in its last epoch of greatness. Mike De Leon, Mario O’Hara, Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal were popularly known in the Philippines to be the leading liberal voices in the filmmaking movement. The decade have produced the most politically charged Filipino films ever made with Brocka’s Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim (1985) and Mike de Leon’s Sister Estalla L (1984) and Batch ’81 (1982). This was also the last decade for the great masters of cinema. Last works of Bresson and Tarkovsky, Sacrifice and L’Argent were shown at Cannes Film Festival of 1983.

1989 was the end of this active epoch in world cinema. As the world crosses to the 90s decade, I was born in our house at a small rural town here in Philippines. I was a clueless mouse back then and this is my way of looking back at that year when I was born.

Philippines 1989: A Year of Living Dangerously

I was born July 3, 1989 and I have no idea of the current state of world cinema that time. But what my father told me was that the Philippines is under shocks of coup d’etat from the military urging the first woman president of the country, Corazon Aquino to resign from position. The country was in its three years recuperating from the dictatorial government of President Ferdinand Marcos, who then died in his exile at Hawaii September of that year. The freedom of the people and democracy was being restored around the country. This is probably the most dangerous years for the National Liberation Front since fascists, anti-communist forces, and loyal supporters of Ferdinand Marcos actively resist their efforts to restore freedom with armed battle. This year was the last stretch of revolution well-depicted in Lino Brocka’s last masterpiece Orapronobis (1989) screened as Out of Competition during *Cannes Film Festival ’89 *.


Orapronobis (1989) – One of the Filipino Films I Won’t forget

My family was also struggling in living out of poverty. My mother at this time was Teaching in a local high school near our house and gave up totally on Agriculture, a degree both my mother and father obtained during their college years in the early 80. Agriculture was under a state of transformation and re-institution after the formation of the controversial Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program by President Corazon Aquino. Feudal disputes between land owners and tenants emerges to be the most crucial fight among the proletariat class while the government is in a state of emergency with numerous military upheavals. My father is working on a contractual job in the government under the Department of Agriculture. Poor as we were, my mother gave birth to me inside our small house here at Casiguran, Sorsogon which would become our permanent resident. Little did I know that during this year World Cinema has produced a couple of masterpieces.

World History Written in the Wind: A Fight for Freedom

The world is in a state of transformation during 1989. Earlier that year President George W. Bush got elected as President of the United States last Jan 20. Emperor Hirohito, the Japan’s emperor who launched staunched imperialism and war in Southeast Asia during World War II, was declared dead last Jan 7. Asia and the world witness the rise of People Power in China. At Tiananmen Square at Beijing last April 15, militant student activists fight for democracy and economic reform. The government of China, having declared Martial Law a few weeks during the start of the protest, amassed a live fire on the protester’s area killing hundreds of civilians and was dubbed as Tiananmen Square Massacre which was condemned by the international community.


The Tank ManAn immortalize image of the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989

As Vladimir Nabokov says:

“It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail.”

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The Fall of Communism

Communism was in its last years. As China’s Communist Leader Deng Xiaoping resigns from his position asa leader in Chinese government. Numerous European countries have undergone revolutions of their own, not only China. In countries like Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania civilians acted up militantly to overthrow the Communist states. Soviet Union was in its last years, which would be dissolved three years after. Political and militant upheaval in the borders of the Soviet Union is escalating at a violent rate. These revolutions in the year 1989 would start the downfall of the socialist states finally leading to the democracy and freedom of these countries except China, though opened its market economy to the world, still remained in socialist status after protest efforts in Tiananmen Square. East and West Germany will be unified a year later. The Berlin Wall will fall on November 9, 1989, my partner’s birthdate, unifying Germany once more.


Fall of the Berlin Wall – The unification of Germany in November 9, 1989

World Cinema in 1989

To the list below, I’ve only seen around seven: Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s A City of Sadness, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, Jorge Furtado’s Island of Flowers, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Decalogue, Jane Campion’s Sweetie and Steven Soderberg’s sex, lies and videotape. I cannot astutely make a comprehensive conclusion about the spirit of filmmaking at that time. But I can say that most of these films depicted the spirit of

Sources:

1989 World History
The Fall of Communism

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