National Artist for Theater and Film (1976)
Lamberto V. Avellana, director for theater and film, has the distinction of being called “The Boy Wonder of Philippine Movies” as early as 1939. He was the first to use the motion picture camera to establish a point-of-view, a move that revolutionized the techniques of film narration. Avellana, who at 20 portrayed Joan of Arc in time for Ateneo’s diamond jubilee, initially set out to establish a Filipino theater. Together with Daisy Hontiveros, star of many UP plays and his future wife, he formed the Barangay Theater Guild which had, among others, Leon Ma .Guerrero and Raul Manglapus as members. It was after seeing such plays that Carlos P. Romulo, then president of Philippine Films, encouraged him to try his hand at directing films. In his first film Sakay, Avellana demonstrated a kind of visual rhythm that established a new filmic language.
Sakay was declared the best picture of 1939 by critics and journalists alike and set the tone for Avellana’s career in film that would be capped by such distinctive achievements as the Grand Prix at the Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong for Anak Dalita (1956); Best Director of Asia award in Tokyo for Badjao, among others.
Avellana was also the first filmmaker to have his film Kandelerong Pilak shown at the Cannes International Film Festival. Among the films he directed for worldwide release were Sergeant Hasan (1967), Destination Vietnam (1969), and The Evil Within (1970).