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Lino Brocka
The Philippines' Greatest Director

Lino Brocka's story is so unusual that if it was pitched to a movie studio it would be rejected -- for being too unbelievable. Yet ask most any Filipino Latter-day Saint, and they know the story: the man who is widely considered the greatest filmmaker in his country, was also a Latter-day Saint. Beyond that, he could be called the "first convert" to the church, earning him forever a place in Latter-day Saint history and film history. Before Richard Dutcher was old enough to hold a camera, Lino Brocka was making a film that drew on his missionary experiences -- in a leper colony.

Brocka was not an active churchgoer later in life, but never held animosity toward the Church. It appears that Filipino church members eventually rejected Brocka's films because of "R-rated" content and GLBT themes. Yet when one considers Brocka's themes, it is clear that his critically acclaimed films were deeply influenced by many Latter-day Saint values, even while portraying--at times accepting--some non-LDS values.

From "Filipino Film and Video Artists":

Filmmaker, actor, social activist, Mr. Brocka is widely considered as the most prominent Filipino filmmaker who broke grounds for Philippine cinema internationally when his films Insiang (1976), Jaguar (1979) and Bona (1980) were shown at Cannes Film Festival, both in Director's fortnight and the Main Competition. He had a colorful career until his untimely death in a car accident in Quezon City in 1991. Known for the social and political causes he espoused like anti-censorship and human rights, he carried on these causes to his films notably, Miguelito, Ang Batang Rebelde / The young rebel (1986), Orapronobis / Fight for us (1989) and Gumapang ka sa Lusak / Dirty affair (1990).
From "Philippine and Church History" and Church History in the Philippines:
The first missionaries [to the Philippines], Elders Ray Goodson, Harry Murray, Kent Lowe and Nestor Ledesma, arrived in Manila on June 5, 1961. The first two to be baptized by the missionaries were Jose Gutierez Sr. and Lino Brocka.
From University of the Philippines Diliman film festival notes:
The best known and most highly regarded contemporary Philippine filmmaker. The son of a fisherman and a schoolteacher, he converted to the Mormon religion after graduating from college and served briefly as a missionary in a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Returning to Manila, he began acting, directing and writing for the stage and TV. He directed his first film in 1970, but it was in 1978 that he first attracted international attention at the Cannes Festival, with Insiang (1976). Brocka's films often carry a social message and are typically sympathetic to the poor and the working class. They are frequently politically controversial. His French co-production L'Insoumis (1989) mercilessly depicts the lawlessness and terror in the post-Marcos Philippines.
From "Mission Impossible 1: Filipino Filmmaking 1896-1986":
Lino Brocka (1940-1991), like Gerardo de Leon, was the spokesman and master filmmaker of his generation. Raised poor and rural, Brocka studied to be a Mormon missionary, worked with homeless in San Francisco, and taught in Hawaii before returning to the Philippines in his late-Twenties. An aspiring actor, he also wrote and directed for the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) both on stage and for its television show. In 1970, Brocka made his first film Wanted: Perfect Mother. It combined the current hit The Sound of Music with a Filipine comic serial (a governess struggles with her brood of orphans), and achieved box office success. Brocka's career was built on the fact that, in three weeks, he could write and direct a film which could make as much money as an American import. Over the next four years he made nine films.

Brocka was a controversial figure, the subject of both praise and criticism. But he was certainly a prolific filmmaker. Among the best of the more than 70 films he made are Maynila: In the Claws of Neon (1975) and Jaguar (1979) which depict the Philippines in a gritty, realistic style. He has was criticised for Bona (1980), which uses well-known movie stars to make a film that, he claimed, attacked the star system; Kontrobersyal (1980), a film condemning pornography, but which was itself deemed pornographic... and Ang Bayan Ko (My Country; Clinging to a Knife Edge, 1984), a Filipine entry in the 1984 Cannes Film Festival which was disowned by the Filipine government. Brocka was a trenchant critic of the Marcos government, and despite being censored (during the latter period of martial law, his films were smuggled out of the country for screenings) and imprisonment, he continued to fight censorship and agitate against the Marcos regime in both his life and his films.

This vigilance continued with the films he made after the fall of Marcos. Brocka, along with other filmmakers, was disappointed with the policies of the new president, Corazon Aquino. Consequently, he continued to make films critical of the Filipine government. Brocka, without a doubt, brought international attention to both the quality and value of the Filipine cinema as well as the transgressions and repression of the Marcos regime.


Lino Brocka Biography

Published by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

This work attempts to present a comprehensive view of the artist's life, with interviews and reviews of his most important films. The volume includes a complete filmography of his works. It also features essays written by highly qualified authors on the subject's contribution to contemporary Philippine culture and history.

Available for online purchase from

Documentary: "Signed: Lino Brocka"

Online source:
Philippines 1987 Length 90 min.

Director: Christian Blackwood Screenwriter/ Producer/ Cinematographer: Christian Blackwood Editor: Monika Abspacher
Cast: Lino Brocka

1988 Peace Film Award Berlin International Film Festival

Signed: Lino Brocka, is a documentary that portrays the late great Filipino filmmaker as patriot and socialist. Brocka explains the importance of reflecting poverty and the culture of the masses on film not just to fulfill realism for realism's sake, but in order for the audience to fully grasp the significance of their roots and move them to remedy the ills of their society.

Christian Blackwood was born in Berlin, Germany in 1942. His selected works are Black Harvest, All by Myself, Private Conversations, Observations Under the Volcano, Nik and Murray and Stephanie and the Madame. He died on July 1992 at New York, USA

Filmography source: Internet Movie Database. Web page created 10 September 2001. Last modified 13 December 2001.