Philippine distributor appeals ban on ‘Imelda’

From Associated Press

A Manila film distributor on Thursday appealed a local court’s temporary ban on a documentary film that Imelda Marcos, widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has said portrays her in a bad light.

Distributor Unitel Pictures Inc. is appealing the ban in the Supreme Court, saying it involves crucial democratic issues.

“The abusive, inexcusable and wrongful exercise of [the judge’s] restraining powers is an assault not only on the liberty of the press but on the very bedrock of democratic government,” Unitel said.


Marcos, who turns 75 today, convinced the Makati Regional Trial Court last week to bar the film “Imelda” from Philippine cinemas for 20 days while the court considered her petition for a permanent ban.

She claimed that she had approved the film as a school project and not as a commercial movie and that it was full of “malice, inaccuracies and innuendoes.”

Marcos appeared Thursday in the Makati court for a further hearing on the ban -- but that was canceled after Unitel filed a petition with the Supreme Court to annul the ban by Judge Maria Cristina Cornejo.

Unitel said the film raised no issues of public safety, morality or personal intimacy and didn’t undermine government authority.

The film, which has opened in the United States, focuses on Imelda Marcos’ dramatic rise and fall. One of Asia’s most famous women, she dazzled the world with her lavish city beautification projects and an enormous shoe collection as her country languished in poverty under her late husband.

The government’s Movie Television Review and Classification Board has cleared “Imelda” for public screening and called its depiction of Marcos and her family “fair, balanced, sensitive and objective,” the distributor said.

Unitel also claimed that Marcos waived her right to privacy by authorizing the movie’s release in a document she signed in December 1996.

Marcos wept during a screening of the film before Cornejo last week. Cornejo subsequently stopped a scheduled screening of the film for the media and its July 7 premiere in Philippine theaters.

The film, by U.S.-based Filipina filmmaker Ramona Diaz, won a cinematography award at the Sundance Film Festival.