Hip, liberal NYC Mormons looking for the next post-Matthew Barney thrill may be interested in a rare opportunity to see a screening of Lino Brocka’s “Manila: in the Claws of Neon.” The GLBT publication The Empty Closet reports that the film will be shown June 30 at the Dryden Theater.
As LDS film has reported, Brocka was one of the first members baptized in the Philippines. He converted in his early twenties and served a mission but then left the faith. According to LDS film, “Brocka was not an active churchgoer later in life, but never held animosity toward the Church. It appears that Filipino church members eventually rejected Brocka’s films because of ‘R-rated’ content and GLBT themes.”
I can’t recommend this film because I haven’t seen it and know nothing about its content [which I know is important for many LDS filmgoers, including myself]. But what I thought was interesting is that the LDS context comes up in The Empty Closet article in a way that is frankly one of the more positive treatments of the faith I’ve run across in press coverage of LDS and GLBT issues — especially when it comes to the world of art.
The relevant paragraph:
“Interestingly enough, Brocka converted to Mormonism in his early twenties, making him one of the first two Philippine citizens baptized into the LDS faith. Subsequently he served as an LDS missionary in a Hawaiian leper colony, a formative experience that presented him with images of humanity at its most abject, something which would be reflected in much of Brockaâ€™s later artistic production.” (“Manila: in the Claws of Neon by Lino Brocka premiers at Eastman Pride Month series.” The Empty Closet: June 3, 2004).
Okay so perhaps positive isn’t quite the right adjective, but I like the acknowledgement that his missionary service affected his art. And more importantly that it was his experiences with “abject humanity” that his mission provided that found its way into his art rather than, say, a story of personal liberation from the confines of Mormonism — the narrative that seems to often be deployed by American GLBT artists. Perhaps The Empty Closet was influenced by LDS film’s information on Brocka [Reporters do use Google, after all], or more likely, and this hopeful person that I am believe, this narrative of Brocka and his art in relation to his Mormonism is the one that’s generally accepted and isn’t just how “LDS insiders” view him.
More: See also this bio written by a Filipina for a Filipinos in history Web site.