Mike de Leon to receive retrospective film screenings at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art

This is the first time his works have been retrospectively screened in North America

Critically-acclaimed Filipino filmmaker Mike de Leon is set to screen a “retrospective film series” of his feature and short films at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) this November.

The exhibit, titled Mike de Leon: Self-Portrait of a Filipino Filmmaker, will include films such as his debut feature, ITIM (The Rites of May) (1976), Kisapmata (1981), AKΩ Batch ’81 (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), and Citizen Jake (2018) among others. Rare behind-the-scenes footage from a number of his films will also be screened.

A new restoration of ITIM was recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. While de Leon was not in attendance, he released a statement via Paris-based distributor Carlotta Films saying: “Horror has now acquired a more sinister meaning. It is no longer about a ghost but about the monsters of Philippine politics, monsters that, after a long wait in the subterranean caverns of hell, have returned to ravish and rape my country all over again. The crazy thing is that we invited them back.”

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The statement was released in the wake of the May 2022 National and Local Elections in the Philippines, where now-President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. was elected as head of state.

In a description for de Leon’s retrospective at the MoMA, they write: “De Leon’s own films mix the genres of melodrama, crime, supernatural horror, slapstick comedy, and the musical with blisteringly critical stances toward his country’s history of corruption and cronyism, state-sponsored violence, feudalist exploitation, and populist machismo: the festering legacies of the nation’s colonial past made even more purulent by the dictatorships of Ferdinand Marcos and Rodrigo Duterte.”

The exhibit is set to take place at the Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center from November 1 to 30 of this year.

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