At a time when Imelda Marcos was fabricating an image to make the nation’s capital appear “true, good, and beautiful,” Ishmael Bernal’s “Manila by Night” depicted everything the first lady was trying to hide. The controversial ensemble film followed several people making their way through the underbelly of the city, exposing the grit and dirt of Manila in real life.
The 1980 film was banned from local theaters for a time but Bernal was able to move past the barriers despite facing pressure from the government. It was heavily edited and distribution was limited. All mentions of Manila were removed, hence the alternate title “City After Dark” before it was allowed to be brought overseas.
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