ABSTRACT



This dissertation is an investigation on the realist film theory of Siegfried Kracauer. It was principally conducted through film practice as exemplified by the ten short films that compose the omnibus film project, Life-world Series (dir. Joni Gutierrez, 2017, 118 minutes). To supplement the study's examination of Kracauerian cinematic realism (KCR), film criticism of selected works of Lino Brocka was also accomplished. The methodology involved three components: (1) research-based production of Life-world Series, (2) textual analyses of the said film collection and selected Brocka films, and (3) meta-analysis of the scholarly criticism on the Brocka film.


This dissertation is the first to use film-making practice which was a part of the research project and devised to investigate KCR, which avows that the cinematic experience of physical reality as an object of contemplation fosters an intuitive understanding of the Lebenswelt (life-world) and, in turn, brings about the redemptive potential of film vis-à-vis the modern condition. The emergent design of Life-world Series opened the study to a wide range of possibilities that it could not have encountered if it limited itself to applying a particular theory as a framework in doing film criticism of pre-existing works. This project - through both its film practice and criticism components - is an interweaving of key notions from Husserlian phenomenology and the seven KCR tropes identified in the study, namely: (1) the quotidian, (2) the transient, (3) the refuse, (4) the fortuitous, (5) the indeterminate, (6) the flow of life, and (7) the spiritual life itself.


The phenomenological engagement of this investigation has provided opportunities for expanding the inventory of KCR tropes, to conceivably include characteristics of the Lebenswelt which form part of the project's overall findings, that is, the life-world as: (1) expansive, (2) multi-layered, (3) flowing, (4) in the process of becoming, (5) resonantly intersubjective, (6) a thing of beauty, (7) relating to essences, (8) cyclical, (9) transcendent, (10) meaning-laden, (11) fragmented, and (12) malleable. The dissertation explicates how its phenomenological approach in inspecting KCR led to the construction of a prospective model of cinematic realism - the integrated quadrant model of Kracauerian cinematic realism (IQMKCR) - and finally, determines the implications and prospects of using film practice as an instrument in interrogating KCR.



ABSTRACT



The images of the mothers in the films of Lino Brocka – a veritable auteur who used film as his medium in expressing his insights through his works from 1970 to 1991 – gravitate towards two clusters of images: (1) the mothers who struggle within the confines of their role, and (2) the mothers who question their role and affirm themselves as persons.

Parallel to the evolution of these images is Brocka’s development in political consciousness as an artist. Indeed, when Brocka understood and acted upon the oppressive situation in the Philippines under martial law, he integrated the issue of human rights in his films as his concept of women and their rights became more progressive. This crucial point in Brocka’s politicization as an artist also marks the shift in character between the said two clusters of images.

Brocka’s films from 1970 to 1982 generally belong to the first cluster of images. Here, Brocka’s familiarity and affinity with the types of mothers as portrayed by the earlier studio films, popular literature, and “komiks” are manifested. Within this cluster, the following images are identified and fleshed out: (1) the “ideal” mother, (2) mother as victim, and (3) the controlling matriarch. Among these, the “ideal” mother is the most oppressed. By accepting and internalizing the patriarchal construct of the mother as the “ilaw ng tahanan,” the woman enters into a role that imposes strict characteristics for her not just to display but internalize. Thus the “ideal” mother, to maintain the bliss of home and family life, leads her children in bringing pleasure to the father, looks and feels good all the time, and suffers silently. The mother as victim comes next to the “ideal” mother with regard to oppression. While for the “ideal” mother, the source of oppression is internal, for the victimized mother, it is external in the form of the violence and cunning of men and the patriarchal demands of the society that they dominate. The controlling matriarch also struggles within the confines of her role as mother. Superficially, the matriarch has power over people, objects, and objectified people, but this is never stable. The matriarch merely took over the properties left by the father, thus, she strains to maintain the volatile stability of her “realm” by controlling her children either through overt meddling or emotional manipulation.

As Brocka made a name for himself, he was empowered by producers who believed in his talent as an auteur who achieves a sense of balance between mass appeal and artistry in his films. He felt that he no longer had to be confined to the “tried-and-tested” and “safe” ways of portraying the mother. He progressively expressed his creative control amidst the commercial context of the industry.

As the auteur became more politicized as an artist, he was able to flesh out more progressive characterizations, narratives, and resultant images of the mothers which belong to the second cluster, namely: (1) mother as transgressor, and (2) mother as aggressor of patriarchy. Brocka’s films from 1984 to 1991 generally belong to this second cluster of images. Here, these mothers question their role and affirm themselves as persons. The liberated mother challenges patriarchy by openly expressing her sexual desire and refusing to judge herself from the patriarchal point of view that categorizes women as either “pure” or “loose” and mothers as either “good” or “bad.” The transgressive mother also declines to take it upon herself to protect her daughter’s innocence at the expense of the truth. She also refuses martyrdom and struggles for power with men both in the domestic and the larger social spheres. As the aggressor of patriarchy, the mother directly confronts not just her husband or father but the dominant patriarchal system itself. The mother, as a person, demands justice that is due to her. She also proceeds to search for social justice in the collective in which she, her husband, and children are part of. She does not limit her energy to the family - for her, the family and the collective are not distinct spheres. Indeed, the personal is also the political.



  1. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2017. "The Realist Cinema of Lino Brocka." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 14 (2): 169-78.
  2. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2016. "Lukács, Kracauer, and Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 13 (2).
  3. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2015. "Representations and Discourses in Internet Comedy." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 12 (1): 233-40.
  4. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2015. "Animation and Realism: A Review of RPG Metanoia (2010)." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 12 (1): 241-51.
  5. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2014. "New Objectivity: A Review of Fritz Lang’s M (1931)." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 11 (2): 222-7.
  6. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2013. "Philippines, Migration, 1948 to Present." In The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, edited by Immanuel Ness. Wiley-Blackwell.
  7. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2012. "Filipino Indie by Way of Southeast Asian Independent Cinema." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 9 (2): 97-104.
  8. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2011. "For the Youth: Pursuing Sustainability in Filipino Indie Filmmaking." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 8 (2): 53-70.
  9. Gutierrez, Jose III. 2009. "Images of the Mother in Lino Brocka Films: 1970-1991." Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society 6 (2): 107-26.


  1. “Phenomenalist-realist Film Aesthetics in Life-world Series (2017)” at “The Poetics of Asian Cinemas Conference” on 10 July 2017 at Lancaster University, United Kingdom.
  2. “The Realist Cinema of Lino Brocka” at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies (SCMS) Conference (Session E22: New Takes on Global Auteurs) on 30 March 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
  3. “Imaging the Umbrella Movement via Kracauerian Cinematic Realism” at the International Communication Association (ICA) Conference on 11 June 2016 in Fukuoka, Japan.
  4. “Tapping into the Lifeworld through Online Cinema and Photography: A Case Study of Lifeworld Series” at the Asian Congress for Media and Communication (ACMC) Conference on 28 October 2016 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
  5. “The Physical, Ephemeral and Political: Imaging Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement in Twelve Hundred Miles (2015)” at the 4th Global Social Science Graduate Student Conference on 22 April 2016 at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong.
  6. “Tapping into the Lifeworld through Online Cinema and Photography: A Case Study of Joni Gutierrez' Lifeworld Series” at the 6th International Postgraduate Conference on 24 September 2016 at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.
  7. “Animation and Realism: A Review of RPG Metanoia (2010)” at the Research Institute for Digital Culture and Humanities (RIDCH) Conference on 18 December 2015 at Jubilee College, the Open University of Hong Kong.
  8. “Tapping into the Lifeworld through Online Cinema and Photography: A Case Study of Joni Gutierrez’ Hong Kong Series” on 5 July 2016 at the Research Institute for Digital Culture and Humanities (RIDCH) Conference at the Open University of Hong Kong.
  9. “The ‘Brocka Film’: Conventions of Melodrama and Realities in Martial Law-Era Philippines” at the "Whose Voice? Theory & Practice: 5th International Postgraduate Conference” on 24 September 2015 at the Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.
  10. “Animation and Realism: A Close Reading of RPG Metanoia (2010)” at “Situations: Cultural Studies in the Asian Context” International Conference on 13 February 2015 at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong.
  11. “The Social Realist Cinema of Lino Brocka” at the Global Symposium on Social Sciences on 13 July 2014 at the Royal Paradise Hotel in Phuket, Thailand.
  12. “Representations and Discourses in Internet Comedy: 9gag.com” at the “Four-Round Joint International Symposium: Globalization and Localization in the New Media Age” on 6 June 2014 at the Institute of Communication Studies, Communication University of China in Beijing, China.
  13. “Intuitionist Realism and Phenomenology in the Cinema of Philippines’ Lino Brocka” at the Asian Congress for Media and Communication (ACMC) Conference on 14 November 2014 at the City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
  14. “Independent Documentary Film in the Philippines” at the “Documentary Film in South and South-East Asia (including Hong Kong/Macau)” International Conference on 31 August 2013 at the Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong.
  15. “Representations and Discourses in Internet Comedy: 9gag.com” at the Asian Congress for Media and Communication (ACMC) International Conference on 26 October 2012 at the Faculty of Communication Arts, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.
  16. “Images of the Mother in Lino Brocka Films: 1970-1991” at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) Conference on 17 March 2010 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California, USA.