Digitally restored ‘Markova: Comfort Gay’ to stream during Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino

November 6, 2020 - 3:41 PM
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Poster of Gil Portes' "Markova: Comfort Gay" on Facebook (ABS-CBN Film Restoration/Released)

The digitally restored and remastered version of the award-winning film “Markova: Comfort Gay” will be showcased at the coming Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

The critically-acclaimed movie was initially released in 2000 and stars Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon and his sons Eric and Jeffrey “Epy” Quizon.

It follows the painful story of Walter Dempster, Jr., also known as “Markova,” who was forced into prostitution and became one of the “comfort gays” during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines.

ABS-CBN’s Film Restoration or Sagip Pelikula project released the new trailer of the war drama of the late prolific filmmaker Gil  Portes on Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday, November 4.

Part of the trailer was quoted in the caption: “May narinig na ba kayong comfort gay? Ito ang kwento ng buhay ko.”

It bagged several prestigious awards and nominations in Gawad Urian Awards and FAMAS Awards.

The restored and remastered version will be part of the lineup of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, the flagship event of the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

Now on its fourth year, the PPP will be streamed online via FDCP’s own channel in light of the standing closure of most cinemas amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Last October 31, the FDCP Channel has already released 80 short films on its platform. Then, starting on November 20 until December 13, paid subscribers can have access to 90 full feature films, including the critically-acclaimed film.

“Our virtual Cinematheques is our homage to our very own arthouse cinemas that are still physically closed because of the pandemic, and will livestream your beloved titles. Watch out for our festival lineup and mark your calendars,” its website read.

Since its launch in 2016, ABS-CBN’s Sagip Pelikula sought to re-introduce Filipino classic movies to newer and younger audiences and help preserve them as part of the Filipino cultural heritage.

Among the most notable restored works are “Biyaya ng Lupa” (1959), “Omeng Satanasia” (1977) and “Bulaklak sa City Jail” (1984).

Timing with the social climate

This announcement came at a time when local social media community is debating over the importance of the passage of the  Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression-specific anti-discrimination bills.

One Twitter user pointed this out amid comments of excitement on the movie’s re-release.

“PAKI-USAP!! Please do yourself a favor and watch this! It couldn’t come at a better time,” the user wrote.

Another Twitter user also stressed the importance in remembering the atrocities of the Japanese imperial soldiers to women, children and members of the LGBT community during World War 2.

“This is a must-watch. Heart wrenching, but it happened. And a reminder that we should never forget the atrocities of Japan against women and LGBT members,” the user said.

Last Wednesday, which was also the same day the trailer was posted online, the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality deliberated on the proposed 16 bills with 25 resource persons.

This hearing prompted a heated debate on Twitter with hashtags #YestoSOGIEbill and #NotoSOGIEbill between advocates and conservative critics.

Other reactions on the critically-acclaimed biopic described traumatic feelings after watching it for the first time back then.

“I hated this film so much as a child because I couldn’t get over the abuse and rape I saw. Imperial japan colonized my country and abused our women and gays. Sobrang nakaka trigger ng damdamin,” one user said.

“I remember crying after watching this movie when I was 10 years old. I didn’t knew anything then but I remember on my mind was this repeating message of ‘di ka bakla wag kang matakot’ over and over again…constantly denying my true self because of fear,” another user said.