CMC Research Brownbag: Prof. Joni Gutierrez

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 3:00pm

The Office of Research and Publication invites you to the CMC Research Brownbag Series

Intuitionist-Existentialist Cinematic Realism in Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)

By Jose Gutierrez III
Assistant professor (on study leave), University of the Philippines Film Institute; Research PhD student, Hong Kong Baptist University

PhilStar 1, UP College of Mass Communication

20 June 2014, 3:00 PM

The study develops a framework in analyzing Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light [Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag] (1975), based on intuitionist realist film theory as constituted by Siegfried Kracauer, John Grierson, André Bazin, and Georg Lukács vis-à-vis existential phenomenology as instigated by the ideas of Martin Heidegger. First, the presentation orients the audience on the cinema of Lino Brocka then applies the proposed intuitionist-existentialist cinematic realism framework on a film criticism of the said film, and finally explores how this philosophical approach can be used in engaging other Lino Brocka films as well as other works that operate under a similar mode of screen reality.

The timeless and universal appeal of Manila in the Claws of Light can be attributed not only to its artistically poignant but salient critique of social inequality and corruption during the Marcos dictatorship, on one level, but, perhaps as importantly, on another, philosophical level, its universal portrait of a human “Being,” in a Heidegerrean sense, Dasein who existentially pursues authenticity and freedom, “thrown into the world” (Geworfenheit) – in which the life-world (Lebenswelt) is damaged by the modern condition – that opposes this ideal.

The conceptualizations of Kracauer, Grierson, Bazin, and Lukács on intuitionist cinematic realism bridge the two levels: (1) film art as social critique and (2) existential contemplation of the human condition.The coupling of intuitionist realist film theory and existential phenomenology in analyzing Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light (1975) may also be conducted in his other films – e.g., Weighed But Found Wanting(1974), Insiang (1976), Jaguar (1979), Bona (1980), Bayan Ko: My Own Country (1985), Macho Dancer (1988), Orapronobis (1989) – and other films in the richly diverse pool of works around the world, operating under a similar mode of intuitionist-existentialist screen reality.


A filmmaker and assistant professor (on study leave) at the University of the Philippines Film Institute, Joni Gutierrez is pursuing a PhD degree in Communication (Film Studies concentration) at the Hong Kong Baptist University. He holds degrees – MA Media Studies (Film) and BA Psychology (cum laude) – from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has presented papers at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Los Angeles and the Asian Congress for Media and Communication in Bangkok and authored “Images of the Mother in Lino Brocka Films: 1970-1991” (2009) in Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society and “Philippines, Migration, 1948 to Present” (2013) in Wiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration (Edited by Immanuel Ness). His official website is