Archival crisis subtends Philippine cinema: lost films, collapsed archives, and limited access to surviving works expose national cinema’s fictive homogeneity. Lim’s forthcoming book, The Archival Afterlives of Philippine Cinema (Duke University Press) moves beyond mourning archival loss to instead foreground archivists’ and advocates’ resourceful practices of making do and their perseverance in the face of institutional constraints and state indifference. The talk begins with an overview of the book’s stakes and approaches, conceptualizing Philippine cinema’s anarchival condition and its archival afterlives.
The heart of the talk explores two informal archives that have enabled the circulation of rare works of Philippine cinema via both formal and informal routes. The first of these is Video 48, a legendary brick-and-mortar video store specializing in Tagalog-language, feature-length fiction films. The second is Kalampag Tracking Agency, a micro-curatorial initiative and screening program helmed by Merv Espina and Shireen Seno that retrieves and recirculates short works of experimental and avant-garde film and video from Manila’s alternative scene. Both Video 48 and Kalampag Tracking Agency revalue residual media from various historical eras and facilitate essential flows between private collections originating in insider circles and a broader public who would otherwise be unable to access these films. Juxtaposing Video 48 and the Kalampag Tracking Agency, the talk conceptualizes networks of archival circulation as a riverine system co-constituted by an admixture of formal and informal entities, social actors, and practices.
Bliss Cua Lim is Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique (Duke University Press, 2009) and serves on the Editorial Collective of Camera Obscura and the Advisory Board of Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication. She envisions a next book, Queer Traversals: Inter-Asian Media Cultures, that asks how queerness – whether construed as style, content, real vs. constructed audiences, or undervalued labor – facilitates the global hold of Asian media industries.