Lino Brocka. Bona. 1980. Philippines. 35mm print, color, sound, 83 min. Acquired from Pierre Rissient
In Still Moving: The Film and Media Collections of the Museum of Modern Art by Steven Higgins, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2006, p. 279
Lino Brocka made more than fifty films in a career that lasted barely twenty years. Starting as a script supervisor, he made his directorial debut in 1970 with Wanted: Perfect Mother. After a short series of commercial studio releases, Brocka withdrew from filmmaking altogether, returning to the business in 1974 with his own short-lived production company, CineManila, which folded two years later. From 1976 until his death in 1991, Brocka juggled commercial and personal projects, gaining an international reputation as the finest Philippine director of his generation. Bona, released in 1980, is perhaps his best–regarded work. The title character is a young, starstruck schoolgirl (played by Nora Aunor) who falls in love with an aging actor (Phillip Salvador) and becomes his servant. She waits on him loyally in his decrepit shack, receiving nothing for her labors but the privilege of being his slave. When the actor decides he has had enough of her and attempts to toss her aside, Bona retaliates in a wholly unexpected, utterly justified fit of violent rage. As with many of his other independently made films, Bona reveals Brocka’s uncanny ability to join the personal and the political, to locate the overarching social statement in an intimate, deeply individualized gesture. He gave voice to an enormous swath of the Filipino population, one that had previously been given little attention by the nation’s filmmakers, most of whom were more concerned with the dissemination of fantasy than with immersion into real life. In so doing, he became a hero to an entire generation of filmmakers in the Pacific Rim and beyond.