Two films that provide contrasting views on former President Ferdinand Marcos’ regime open in theaters this week. One of them is Katips by Vincent Tañada, a musical that follows the story of Martial Law activists and their struggles throughout that turbulent period of history, while the other is Maid in Malacañang by controversial director Darryl Yap, which attempts to portray the Marcoses’ point of view during their last days in Malacañang Palace at the height of the 1986 People Power Revolution.
While the films’ box-office performances are yet to be seen, netizens are up in arms over the decision of Cinema ‘76, a microcinema in Quezon City known for screening movies that cater to cinephiles, to show both films in their intimate theater at the same time.
Cinema ‘76 has a reputation for showing independent Filipino and foreign films that have met critical acclaim, so many of its loyal patrons are questioning its choice to run a movie they claim is “blatant historical distortion.”
The trailer for Maid in Malacañang got a lot of negative buzz for depicting Filipinos storming the gates of Malacañang Palace with torches during the People Power Revolution an angry lynch mob, imagery that does not match actual photos or historical archives from the time.
The Sisters of the Carmelite Monastery, who provided refuge for former President Cory Aquino during the period, also slammed the trailer for depicting the nuns playing mah jong with the former president, calling their portrayal “malicious” and “reprehensible.”
Cinema ‘76’s social posts were filled with comments urging the cinema to “tumindig ka” (take a stand) by not screening the controversial film.
“Cinema ‘76 contributing to the blatant historical revisionism,” one said.
Comparing it to Katips (which recently won several Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards), another commenter wrote, “One film shows the struggle of the country’s masses during a certain era. The other shows a family (that caused said era) playing the victim and how they were the ones bullied by the Filipino masses. I know what I’m watching.”
“Normally I would say they have the right to screen what they want to, but this time it’s different. A supposedly independent cinema house giving a platform to a movie that attempts to revise history and justify abuse and oppression in the guise of ‘hearing the other side of the story’ is different. They will be participating in spreading the camp’s propaganda,” another argued.
“Katips alone would have been fine. But why do you need to have trash alongside it?” another asked.
Meanwhile, a handful of commenters defended Cinema ‘76, saying that the theater was entitled to show whatever films they wanted.
“This is a cinema. It’s their discretion to show what they want in their establishment. It’s your choice if you want to watch one or the other. Stop forcing your beliefs on other people,” one wrote.
While the independent cinema did not offer any explanation as to why they decided to show the two diametrically opposed films at the same time, it may have something to do with its ownership. Cinema ‘76 is owned by TBA Studios, which counts EA Rocha as one of its co-owners. EA Rocha is the father of Xandra Rocha, who is married to Luis Marcos-Araneta, son of Irene Marcos and Greggy Araneta.
Irene is the third child of Marcos Sr. and former first lady Imelda Marcos, and is portrayed by Ella Cruz in the movie. The actress made headlines herself recently when she defended her role in the movie by saying that “history is like chismis (gossip).”