Lino Brocka’s Cannes Classic ‘Bona,’ With Philippines’ Female Superstar Nora Aunor, Set for Release in U.S., France (EXCLUSIVE)

“Bona,” one of the landmark films of Philippines cinema, is headed for release in France and the U

Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 10:31:37 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 10:31:37

“Bona,” one of the landmark films of Philippines cinema, is headed for release in France and the U.S. later this year.

Directed by Lino Brocka, considered one of the pioneers of Philippines cinema, a restored version of the film returns to Cannes after an absence of more than 40 years. A 4K restored version screens this week in the Cannes Classics section.

It will be released in France on Sept. 25 through Carlotta Films, which is also handling world sales. A U.S. and Canada outing through Kani Releasing will follow in the fourth quarter.

Despite being made in 1981, “Bona” has contemporary relevance as it probes the phenomenon of fandom. In the film, middle-class girl Bona (Nora Aunor), drops out of high school to follow Gardo (Phillip Salvador), a minor actor in low-budget films. When her father tries to beat some sense into her, Bona decides to move in with Gardo. At first, she is delighted to play house. Soon, however, she finds herself not the wife, but the maid. Moreover, Gardo is himself a Narcissus of the slums trapped in an illusion of celebrity and unable to break free.

“Bona,” which Aunor also produced, was a major milestone for the actress.

As the first Philippines superstar to not embody Western standards of beauty, Aunor, then aged 28, was adored by the working-class from which she came. The role challenged her stardom by stripping away her character’s societal status and had Bona giving up everything in pursuit of her unworthy idol.

The character’s blind and unrequited love has parallels with the protagonist in “The Story of Adele H,” the 197 -

1 film by Francois Truffaut that earned Isabell Adjani an Oscar-nomination. And Pierre Rissient, the late talent scout for Cannes, is said to have told Aunor that it was his favorite film in which she appeared.

“The new restoration is gorgeous and, because of the available material, one of the best restorations of a Southeast Asian film,” said Pearl Chan of Kani Releasing.

The film had been largely unseen since the 1980s and its technical elements were believed to be lost. In 2023, Carlotta Films and Kani Releasing acquired the rights to the film from Aunor.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Professor José B. Capino used information from a 2017 interview with Rissient to unearth the location of elements of several Brocka films. The original negatives of “Bona” had been deposited at the LTC Lab in Paris (now Cité de Mémoire). The 4K restoration was carried out at Cité de Mémoire laboratory (Paris) from the original 35 mm image and sound negatives preserved by LTC Patrimoine. Sound restoration was handled by L.E. Diapason.

A new poster was designed by Midnight Marauder, a company best known for its imagery for “Plan 75,” “The Worst Person in the World” and Netflix’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.”

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