Marilou Diaz-Abaya: Filmmaker on a Voyage
A key figure in contemporary Asian cinema, the great Filipino filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya was one of the most successful and inspiring directors, television producers, and teachers that her country has ever seen, responsible for a string of critically acclaimed and commercially popular films from the eighties to her untimely death in October of 2012. Her second feature, Brutal (1980), was the first Filipino film to deal with rape in a social justice framework. It played to surprising acclaim at a time when audiences preferred lighthearted fare, winning six awards at the MetroManila Film Festival in 1980 and going on to box-office success. Long before the Philippines became the darling of world cinema, Diaz-Abaya continued through the eighties and nineties to create some of the region’s most memorable works—as well as some of its toughest and most daring. Other key titles include In the Navel of the Sea (1997), Jose Rizal (1998) and Reef Hunters (1999).
Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s career—from her first films to the foundation of her film academy—as well as her intelligence and drive are on display in Mona Lisa Yuchengco’s fascinating portrait of the first lady of Philippine cinema. “She is one of the Filipino directors who can capture the soul of the Filipino,” says Enrico Santos. “Any kid… who views her films will say that ‘I am not a rudderless human being… and here is the proof.’”