After restored film comes 'Himala' the book

Posted at 12/05/2012 8:25 PM | Updated as of 12/06/2012 2:36 PM

Lee hails restored HD version of the Nora Aunor-starrer

MANILA, Philippines -- The acclaimed writer of "Himala" celebrates the legacy of the Philippine film classic through a coffee table book that journeys back 30 years, when the Ishmael Bernal masterpiece first hit local theaters.

The release of Ricky Lee's "Sa Puso ng Himala" coincides with the local screening of its restored high-definition (HD) version, the award-winning writer told ABS-CBN News at the sidelines of the book's launch at Shangri-La Plaza Mall held Wednesday.

"Noong sinabi sa akin na magkakaroon ng restored version ng 'Himala,' naisip ko, ba't hindi gumawa ng libro tungkol sa paggawa ng 'Himala' mismo?" he said.

Written as a coffee table book, "Sa Puso ng Himala" features the complete screenplay of the 1982 film in English and Filipino, 300 unpublished photos chronicling the making of the film, and extensive interviews with the cast and crew of the 1982 film.

According to Lee, among the interviews included in the book are those with Racquel Vilavicencio, the film's production designer; Joel Lamangan, who was the casting and crowd director of the movie; and Ama Quiambao, who portrayed Sepa in "Himala."

"Pati 'yung mga um-extra noon sa stampede, 'yung naka-wheelchair noon, 30 years later, na-interview namin siya, at kiniwento niya 'yung mga karanasan niya noon," Lee said.

"So lahat ng mga ganyang interview, wala ka pang naririnig na mga ganyang kwento," the writer added. "Maski kay Nora (Aunor), wala pang nag-i-interview nang ganito sa kanya, tungkol sa paano nga ba niya pinortray si Elsa, ano nga ba nararamdaman niya noong eksena niya sa stampede?"

Silver sceen gems

Screenwriter Ricky Lee and actress Nora Aunor pose for a photo during the premiere of the restored version of "Himala" at the 2012 Cinema One Originals Festival. Photo by Nimfa Chua for ABS-CBNnews.com

Last Sunday, the story of Elsa (Aunor), a barrio lass whose visions of the Virgin Mary changes her life and her community, again unfolded when the restored version of "Himala" premiered at the 2012 Cinema One Originals Festival.

"Napanood ko na, katabi ko si Nora last Sunday. Si Guy ang react nang react eh. 'Kuya ang-linis-linis, kuya.' Then naiyak siya sa tatlo, apat na eksena. So para siyang pinapanood mo noong 1982, parang balik siya sa dati niyang itsura," Lee said.

"Para siyang bagong pelikula completely. Sana makita rin ng kapwa nating Pilipino na meron tayong tinatawag na second golden age ng Philippine cinema," Lee added, referring to films released in the 1980s.

"Ang mga pelikulang ito ay mga gems. That period is worth na mapanood nila ngayon, kahit na hindi nila nakagisnan noon," he said.

The restored version of "Himala" was first screened at the 2012 Venice International Film Festival in September. But a long history of international recognition for the film preceded the Italian showing.

Notably, it was recognized as a contender for the prestigious Golden Bear Award at the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival. It also won the Bronze Hugo Prize at the Chicago International Film Festival in the same year; and in 2008, was hailed as the Best Asia-Pacific Film Of All Time by the CNN and Asia Pacific Screen Awards.