The End of National Cinema
Broad-ranging and empirically grounded, The End of National Cinema maps the long-standing debates and new developments in Philippine cinema while illuminating the persistent but irresoluble claims made by—and on—filmmaking in the Philippines, claims that are revealing of the wider intellectual and political stakes that have to do with what it is like to live (and die) in the Philippines and what it takes to remake a society in the throes of change.
—Caroline S. Hau, author of Necessary Fictions: Philippine Literature and the Nation, 1946-1980
Uncommonly rigorous yet unapologetically iconoclastic... This groundbreaking book is a maverick compendium, refusing indie vs. mainstream dichotomies, dethroning the cultural myth of a golden age, and reassessing the naturalized nationalist prescriptions of Philippine film criticism. Without foreclosing their oppositional charge, Campos interrogates “national cinema” on the one hand and “independence” on the other, tracking the degree to which the national morphs under globalization while independent becomes a crucial yet conflated term.
—Bliss Cua Lim, author of Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique
The End of National Cinema is a luminous accomplishment in scholarly research and theoretical acuity, where Campos deftly and cogently negotiates the debates for and against dominant and emergent paradigms in the area of film research and criticism. Breathlessly proficient and entirely rewarding in the depth and sweep of their interpretive gestures. A definite gem of a book, not just for film or media studies, but also for postnational, cosmopolitan, cultural, and global (re)theorizings, especially in our part of the restively transitioning and increasingly uneven world. The result—when you read the book—is a formidable work of astute and cutting-edge media scholarship.
The End of National Cinema is a conceptual coup, ambitious in providing an overview of scholarly urgencies in contemporary Philippine film studies, modest and painstaking in pursuit of its objectives, ingenious in re-imagining problems that do not seem to promise much in the way of providing conclusive answers, so that these become worthy of careful consideration. ...and if all other scholars of Philippine cinema suddenly and simultaneously turn inactive right now for whatever reason, film studies in the country will still be able to proceed on the strength of Campos’s forthcoming contributions.
Dito ko kinagiliwan ang aklat sa pananalinhaga nito, sa autokritikong sipat ng pagkakasulat... Walang ipinakilalang ito ang alpha at ito ang omega. Sa halip, pinagtuunan niya ng pansin ang usapin ng heyograpiya, politikal na kapangyarihan, ang global na ekonomiya at sinuri ang madali at minadaling katalogong maaaring magdala sa pagkabangkarote sapagkat mas pinipili natin ang estratehiya na walang puwang ang pagsusuri—na ang kritikal na pagsipat ay isang gawaing labag sa pagpapaunlad ng isang malaking adhikaing nakapadron sa pagpapakilala sa isang uri ng sine bilang Filipino o sineng pambansa.
—Kristian Sendon Cordero, author of Labi: Mga Tula
…the book starts with “The End.” But as the owl soars into the unknown time of a new night, The End of National Cinema aspires to the beginning of a new cinema while manifesting the other sense of end… Like Walter Benjamin, Campos fulfills the labor of loving cinema to remember “dialectic images” lost in history and redeem them in “the now of recognizability,” thereby opening a critical “third space” in the global age: liminal, inconclusive, complex, dynamic space and counterspace for critical activity.
Combining a range of methodologies, Campos moves skillfully from analysis of film discourse, to textual analysis of representation, to strategically distilled political history. One of the book’s strengths is how it unpacks the complexity of national cinema as a concept created for particular ends, by particular institutional and individual agents, in specific historical and cultural circumstances. Ultimately, The End of National Cinema is about the relational formation of national cinemas, a category created not simply through representation, but also through nationalist film criticism, culture and arts institutions and transnational festival circuits.
Campos provides infinite differentiation of the identity of national cinema to prevent its identity from being fixed. By postponing its identification, he suggests an alternative definition of “national cinema,” and thus invites us to install one that is heterogeneous, truly of the nation, and open to radical changes.
The End of National Cinema compels us to take a step back and recognize where the nation lies amidst global forces and the nascent tendency to deconstruct boundaries and spaces. It also encourages us to look at the persistent influence of transnational mobilities that have permeated cinema, rendering complex the manifestations of the national and global and the hybrid images in between.
In Campos’s carefully written, assiduously researched and well-argued book, the auteurial, regional, geographical, diasporic, folkloric and more-than-human aspects that constitute, influence, and impact the creation of films and the filmmaking practices in the Philippines reveal a ‘national cinema’ that moves and flows with the tidalectics of the archipelago.
The diligence with which he historicises and contextualises themes reveals the utmost value he places in understanding continuities, disruptions and departures in the country’s film history. His approach unpacks a historical narrative of cinema that is rich in layers and textures. The book is therefore not only a contribution to Philippine film criticism but also to its film history. Campos should be commended for giving us a persuasively written work whose importance matches its magnitude.
If there is one thing to be gleaned from this voluminous book, it is that Campos is passionate about Philippine cinema. While he is very particular about the temporal and spatial coverage of his analyses, he does so not by signaling a break similar to a before-and-after model, but by locating movies and events in a historical continuum stretching as far back as the arrival of film technology in the country during the American period until the first decade of the twenty-first century.