National Artist for Cinema (2001)
(September 30, 1938 – June 2, 1996)
Ishmael Bernal was a filmmaker of the first order and one of the very few who can be truly called a maestro. Critics have hailed him as “the genius of Philippine cinema.”
He is recognized as a director of films that serve as social commentaries and bold reflections on the existing realities of the struggle of the Filipino. His art extends beyond the confines of aesthetics. By polishing its visuals, or innovating in the medium, he manages to send his message across: to fight the censors, free the artists, give justice to the oppressed, and enlighten as well as entertain the audience.
Among his notable films are “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga” (1989), “Broken Marriage” (1983), “Himala” (1982), “City After Dark” (1980), and “Nunal sa Tubig” (1976).
He was recognized as the Director of the Decade of the 1970s by the Catholic Mass Media Awards; four-time Best Director by the Urian Awards (1989, 1985, 1983, and 1977); and given the ASEAN Cultural Award in Communication Arts in 1993.