The Cannes Film Festival : Bona / Video Review by Luis Pedron

Screened at the Directors’ Fortnight at the Festival de Cannes in 1981, and showcased now for the first time this year in a restored version, Bona by Lino Brocka sees the Cannes Classics comeback of a film that had been left to languish from the moment it was released.

The Filipino filmmaker was up for two Palme d’ors in the eighties: first in 1980 with Jaguar, and again in 1984 with Bayan Ko. Like Insiang, Bona was partially filmed in a slum, a setting this film-maker returns to again and again in his sociological, gritty films that generally shine a light on the Philippines’ middle classes.


©Jojo de Vera and Luis Pedron, Jojo helped to make this digitally remaster version of “Bona.”

Bona‘s young protagonist ditches her studies and parents to follow Gardo, a bit actor she has become besotted with, and who tolerates her presence in his home, provided she accepts his endless procession of conquests and undertakes demeaning household chores. Mistreated by everyone in her life, including her own father who rejects her out of frustration, she nevertheless does her best to hold on to her dignity.

The protagonist is played by national sweetheart Nora Aunor: an actor, singer, and the film’s producer, too. The Filipina superstar wanted to move away from the blockbusters and make more arthouse films, and the way in which Lino Brocka breaks down her image as a silver-screen starlet is an intriguing plot twist in and of itself.

In this role, she remains practically silent throughout, and is subjected to humiliation without ever reacting or standing up for herself. The actor’s performance is searing in its expressive simplicity, all the way up to the magnificent final revolt.

Bona 2

©Luis Pedron, Vincent Paul-Boncour from Carlotta Films based in Paris.

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