Related topics

Ishmael Bernal, Philippine Movie Director, Dies at 58

June 3, 1996

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Ishmael Bernal, a leading Filipino movie director who struggled against censorship in films portraying social injustice, has died at age 58.

Bernal died of a heart attack Sunday night after a long bout with heart and pancreas ailments, relatives said.

His career as a director began in the early 1970s after he studied filmmaking in Poona, India. He was most prolific during the authoritarian rule of late President Ferdinand Marcos, who restricted free expression.

Bernal’s 60 movies often delved into social, economic and political problems, contrasting sharply with the escapist action films that predominate in Philippine cinema.

He and Lino Brocka, who died in a car accident five years ago, were considered the Philippines’ best directors. They led the struggle against censorship.

Bernal used satire to describe political and social problems, at times irking the powers-that-be. Former first lady Imelda Marcos was angered by his 1982 film ``Manila By Night,″ which shows how poverty drives people to do things they would not normally do.

The censors’ board cut portions of the movie but Bernal had the film shown in its entirety at foreign film festivals.

Bernal studied diplomacy at the University of the Philippines and worked in the diplomatic service until he began making films.

He directed his last film in 1993.

Update hourly