When visitors reach the end of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Little Theater Lobby, after passing through the massive Black & White artwork by National Artist Arturo Luz, they often just turn around and proceed to other areas.
But in one small corner of the lobby, besides the artwork by National Artist Cesar Legaspi, there lies a door that leads to the Tanghalang Manuel Conde (TMC), the audio-visual room of the CCP. It is the home of the CCP Arthouse Cinema, the film program which screens outstanding Filipino films year-round.
The venue was once called CCP Dream Theater. But when the partnership with Dream Satellite ended, Tanghalang Manuel Conde was left with no identity as a venue.
To rectify the situation, the nondescript venue went under a revamp, and now sporting a new marquee.
“We wanted to give TMC an identity as a cinema. We decided to put a marquee so people will know that it is a cinema, which is quite different from a performance venue,” said chief culture and arts officer Eric Cruz who designed the marquee.
It took the team three years to finish the marquee.
Back in 2018, CCP artistic director Chris MIllado challenged the team to come up with a design for TMC. The idea was to give it an identity and, at the same time provide a new cinematic experience for the visitors. It was supposed to be launched in 2019, but it didn’t push through. Then, COVID-19 pandemic happened so the idea was shelved.
With the re-opening of the CCP Arthouse Cinema, the project came back to light. In February 2021, Cruz and his team started working on it, creating changes to the original design, and finally building it in time for the re-opening.
The new marquee brings a certain nostalgia to onlookers. It sports a neon signage, inspired by the bright fluoro lights which were all the rave in the 1980s. But the design team made it contemporary using LED technology, which is cheaper and has low carbon emissions
The walls are covered with a collage of film posters from the bygone eras to contemporary times. Dexter Sy did the layout of the collage.
“TMC was named after Manuel Conde, who was known as the Father of Independent Films. To honor that, we decided to create a collage featuring the posters of independent films, from the earliest films to Cinemalaya Best Pictures. Nostalgic lang,” shared Cruz.
The younger generations would probably be unfamiliar with some of the films featured in the collage. Through the collage, they are hoping the young ones will get to know the classic films and learn how thriving the film industry in the country has been.
Another interesting tidbit about the marquee? The border was made from the wood scraps from the old escalator of the CCP. When the new escalator was installed, the wooden foundation was discarded and scrapped.
“For the border, the plan was to simulate the grain of wood. Perhaps, carve to create that natural look. But it was challenging to find the right kind of wood for that purpose. The team suggested laminated wood but that would not work,” said Cruz.
The designer challenged his team to find another material. In one of their scavenging hunts, they found the frame of the old escalator that was supposed to be sold as scraps. They repurposed the wooden scraps and created the mosaic-inspired border for the marquee. Reminiscent of a film strip, each block symbolizes a film. Together, they represent the Philippine film industry.
The scale model, lights, woodworks, and acrylic engraving were done by Amado Bonifacio III and Jigs Alegro Bonifacio, under the project management of Nes Noviza.
“With this new marquee, we hope we did justice to the namesake of the cinema venue,” said associate artistic director Ariel Yonzon.
And they certainly did. I can’t wait to have a new cinematic experience at TMC, especially since Cinemalaya is just around the corner. See you at the cinema.
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