10 Best Movies By Filipino Directors, According To Mubi

10 Best Movies By Filipino Directors, According To Mubi


Among the many video streaming platforms available today, Mubi (often stylized as MUBI) sets itself apart with its handpicked selection of films that includes cult favorites, arthouse masterpieces, informative documentaries, and renowned classics from all over the world. This makes Mubi the platform of choice for cinephiles who want to widen their exposure to global cinema.

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Aside from having a meticulously curated collection of films, Mubi also has plenty of community features that allow film buffs to discuss and discover international and under-the-radar flicks. Users on Mubi have reviewed and ranked some of the best films made by Filipino auteurs, which reflect some of the most impressive aspects of Philippine cinema.

10 Mondomanila (2012)


A man wearing headphones surrounded by kids in Mondomanila.

It took director Khavn multiple attempts and almost nine years to make his 2012 feature, Mondomanila. Loosely based on Norman Wilwayco’s award-winning novel, “How I Fixed My Hair After a Rather Long Journey,” Mondomanila tells the story of anti-hero Tony de Guzman and his life in the slums.

Viewers on Mubi consider it as one of the best Filipino films of all time, as it is able to depict what poverty in the Philippines is like without being unbearably heavy and too verbose. It’s an uncompromising glimpse into what life is like for some Filipinos, with its more surreal moments underscoring the indie filmmaker’s distinct style.

9 The Filibuster (1962)


Ibarra wearing a hat in The Filibuster.

An exciting book-to-film adaptation of the 1981 novel of the same name, The Filibuster revolves around Crisostomo Ibarra, the supposedly dead protagonist who comes back for revenge by inspiring a violent revolution in his home country.

Fans of Philippine cinema and literature will know that director Gerardo de León was able to faithfully adapt the source material to the big screen ⁠— so much so that the film was given seven Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Picture, and Best Director.


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8 Blessings Of The Land (1959)


A woman smiling in Blessings Of The Land.

Manuel Silos’ Blessings Of The Land is a classic Filipino melodrama film that perfectly encapsulates the period when it was created. Set in a rural area in the Philippines, the film depicts the simple life of a Filipino couple and their son. However, the trajectory of their lives changes as they experience misfortunes caused by a terrible local who won’t leave them in peace.

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Blessings Of The Land enchants viewers by unapologetically capturing both the problematic practices and admirable values in Filipino culture. Fans likely won’t be able to help but root for its endearing protagonists as they encounter one challenge after another, with each one irreversibly changing the characters and their way of life.


7 Foster Child (2007)


A woman holds a sleeping child in Foster Child.

Many know Brillante Mendoza for having three of his films nominated for the prestigious Cannes Palme d’Or, which includes 2008’s Service and 2016’s Ma’ Rosa. However, the director’s wildly entertaining storytelling and recognizable style can already be clearly seen in his 2007 drama flick, Foster Child.

Featuring Mendoza’s signature hyperrealist cinematography and arguably chaotic camera work, Foster Child is a heartbreaking film that brings the emotional turmoil that often comes with foster parenting into the spotlight. Viewers who want an introduction to Mendoza’s excellent filmography should start with this critically-acclaimed masterpiece.


6 A Portrait Of The Artist As Filipino (1965)


A Filipino family embracing in A Portrait Of The Artist As Filipino.

A Portrait Of The Artist As Filipino is considered one of the most culturally influential 1960s films from the Philippines. Based on the play of the same name by legendary Filipino writer Nick Joaquin, the film puts the focus on the life of sisters Candida and Paula as they take care of their highly-respected painter father during the height of World War II.

Director Lamberto V. Avellana gives justice to the source material by making sure that the film is excellently scored, shot, and written with all the melodrama that’s reminiscent of 1940s Hollywood films. Its brilliant portrayal of the conflicting traditional and Western values during that time period delivers a clear message that still rings true today.


5 Independence (2009)


A man and a woman in the jungle in Independence.

Independence is a beautiful homage to the Hollywood studio system by young filmmaker Raya Martin. The director juxtaposes the dramatics of golden age Hollywood films ⁠— from the black-and-white footage, over-expressive performers, and obviously painted backdrops ⁠— with the horrific experience his countrymen experienced at the start of the American occupation.

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In Independence, Martin masterfully channels the aesthetics and intricacies of Hollywood silent films while still portraying an honest depiction of what life was like in the Philippines during the early 20th century. It’s a bold political movie that serves as an important reminder of the country’s past and how it continues to influence Filipino culture today.


4 Blink Of An Eye (1981)


A family having dinner at home in Blink Of An Eye.

Mike de Leon’s Blink Of An Eye is a crime-drama suspense film that’s based on a controversial real-life murder from 1961. In the movie, a young woman’s journey towards finding liberation indirectly causes her father to commit heinous and horrific acts.

De Leon doesn’t shy away from painting a terrifying picture of a household breaking at the seams due to patriarchy and religious repression. In a country where a big part of the population is overwhelmingly devoted to the church, Blink Of An Eye is a daring and refreshing revelation.




3 Himala (1982)


A woman praying in Himala.

Avid fans of Filipino cinema would agree that Ishmael Bernal’s Himala is one of the best Filipino films of all time. The film revolves around Elsa, an orphan who begins to see apparitions of the Virgin Mary and performs miracles of healing. Soon enough, tourists, patients, filmmakers, and pilgrims begin to flock to Elsa’s town in order to partake in the phenomenon.

RELATED: Dogma & 9 Other Great Religious Satires

Nora Aunor’s performance as the miraculous Elsa and Ricky Lee’s screenplay are, in large part, what make the movie outstanding. In Himala, Bernal aims to expose the dangers of combining fanaticism and faith. It’s a courageous move and a tricky subject to tackle for any filmmaker in an overwhelmingly religious country.


2 Insiang (1976)


A woman scowls in Insiang.

Insiang is a drama film that dissects the role power plays in society. In the film, the titular lead goes to extreme lengths in order to exact revenge on her detestable mother and criminal boyfriend. Exploring themes of despair, betrayal, and retribution, Insiang reveals how each character is ultimately fueled by their desire to survive.

Lino Brocka highlights how there is no true winner in a world that’s driven by vengeance. Because the film is incredibly complex and layered, Insiang is one of the most rewatchable drama movies to ever come out of Philippine cinema – viewers will find that they’ll spot new fascinating details and appreciate the movie’s well-written story the more they watch it.


1 From What Is Before (2014)


A woman on a boat in From What Is Before.

Lav Diaz is known for his haunting slow films ⁠— from 2011’s Century of Birthing, which has a runtime of 359 minutes, to 2016’s A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, which runs over the course of 489 minutes. His 2014 masterpiece, From What is Before, is no different, with a runtime that totals 338 minutes.

The film is a hypnotic experience and a thoughtful exploration of suffering and death. In From What is Before, Diaz also illustrates the encompassing effects of power in today’s society, no matter how seemingly inaccessible and shielded a community is.

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