City of Screens

Imagining Audiences in Manila's Alternative Film Culture

City of Screens

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 21 illustrations Published: March 2021

Asian Studies > Southeast Asia, Globalization and Neoliberalism, Media Studies > Film

In City of Screens Jasmine Nadua Trice examines the politics of cinema circulation in early-2000s Manila. She traces Manila's cinema landscape by focusing on the primary locations of film exhibition and distribution: the pirated DVD district, mall multiplexes, art-house cinemas, the university film institute, and state-sponsored cinematheques. In the wake of digital media piracy and the decline of the local commercial film industry, the rising independent cinema movement has been a site of contestation between filmmakers and the state, each constructing different notions of a prospective, national public film audience. Discourses around audiences become more salient given that films by independent Philippine filmmakers are seldom screened to domestic audiences, despite their international success. City of Screens provides a deeper understanding of the debates about the competing roles of the film industry, the public, and the state in national culture in the Philippines and beyond.


“From the pirate video stalls of the old city center to the shopping mall multiplexes of Manila, Jasmine Nadua Trice examines the fragmented and multifaceted assemblage of alternative Philippine cinema. Her passionate attention to detail and wide-ranging engagement with critical theory provide a compelling model for the study of cinema cultures in the global South.” — Michael Curtin, Distinguished Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Jasmine Nadua Trice persuasively argues that film circulation both envisions and occasionally actualizes the dream of a national film audience for counter-dominant cinema in the Philippines. She confronts head-on one of the thorniest problems of politically or aesthetically progressive Philippine film: filmmakers’ attempts to reach the alienated domestic moviegoer. Her fresh, syncretic approach and elegant thinking make City of Screens a groundbreaking must-read book not only for readers not only interested in Philippine cinema but also for those attuned to the dynamics of distribution, exhibition, and circulation beyond Hollywood. Representing a wholly original and highly generative departure from previous scholarship, City of Screens is a major intervention.” — Bliss Cua Lim, author of Translating Time: Cinema, the Fantastic, and Temporal Critique


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Jasmine Nadua Trice is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1169-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1058-6