Mike De Leon

Mike De Leon
Born Miguel Pamintuan de Leon
(1947-05-24) May 24, 1947
Manila, Philippines
Occupation Film director, cinematographer, scriptwriter, film producer

Miguel Pamintuan de Leon, also known as Mike de Leon (born May 24, 1947) is a Filipino film director, cinematographer, scriptwriter and film producer.


He was born in Manila on May 24, 1947 to Manuel de Leon and Imelda Pamintuan. His interest in filmmaking began when he pursued a master's degree in Art History at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.[1]

De Leon first made two short films namely: Sa Bisperas (On the Eve), in 1972, and Monologo (Monologue), in 1975. He established the Cinema Artists Philippines in 1975. He produced Lino Brocka's Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, while also acting as the said film's cinematographer in 1975. For Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, de Leon won best cinematography awarded by the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS).

De Leon's films are a full reflection of the Filipino psyche that sought answer for questions on social class belonging, political absurdities, and fragmentations in various forms. His first major full-length work was, Itim (Black), in 1976. It was an in-depth study of guilt and violence and shows de Leon’s delicate balancing of cinematic elements to project mood and character. It was voted by the Philippine’s Urian Awards as one of the Ten Outstanding Films of the Decade: 1970-1979. The film also won him the best director award during the 1978 Asian Film Festival held in Sydney, Australia.[1]

When De Leon created Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising in 1977, it became a tribute to his grandmother Doña Sisang to celebrate the centennial of the family's film company, LVN Pictures.[1]

Known for his varied experiments in styles of film directing, he pushed the birth of the new musical in Kakabakaba Ka Ba?, a landmark film which portrayed a number of self-important totems of Philippine society. Kakabakaba Ka ba? won for de Leon the Urian award for best director.[1]

His other movies include Kisapmata (1981), Batch '81 (1982) and Sister Stella L. (1984). In these films he tackled social and political issues with powerful and disturbing imagery. His blockbuster film, Hindi Nahahati ang Langit (1985) was an adaptation from an earlier Filipino Komiks version of the same title. In 1987, De Leon also made Bilanggo sa Dilim, a full-length video commissioned by Sony Entertainment.[1]

De Leon explored subjects such as incest, fraternity violence, and the Filipino workers' cause. These were themes that were portrayed in the films Kisapmata, Batch '81 and Sister Stella L. respectively. These films became cinematic masterpieces in Philippine History of Filmography and were later listed as the Philippines's Ten Outstanding Films of the Decade: 1980-1989 by the Philippines’ Urian Awards. Later on, Batch '81 was voted best picture by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) where de Leon also won a best screenplay award. For Sister Stella L., De Leon won best director and best screenplay in the Philippines's Urian Awards in 1984. Kisapmata and Batch '81 were presented during the Directors' Fortnight at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. The film Sister Stella L. was an entry during the 1985 Venice Film Festival.[1]

De Leon pioneered the use of computer graphics animation for the TV advertising industry in 1988.[1]

De Leon’s film, Aliwan Paradise, became a part of the Southern Winds in 1993, which is a collection of four films from Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan. The NHK and Japan Foundation commissioned this film anthology.[1]


Mike de Leon deservedly received the Parangal Sentenyal sa Sining at Kultura at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in February 1999. His Batch '81 and Sister Stella L. had been among the 25 Filipino films shown in New York from July 31 to August 1999, organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, IFFCOM, the Philippine Information Agency, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York and the Philippine Centennial Coordinating Council - Northeast USA. These series of Filipino films were presented at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center, in celebration of the 100th year of Philippine Independence.[1]

Mike de Leon's movie "Batch '81" is regarded as a classic. It explores the psychological and physical impact of college hazing process as a batch of students of Class '81 commence their journey of education. The movie was highly acclaimed for its direction internationally and was particularly well received in Australia.

Selected filmography

Year Title Notes
1972 Sa Bisperas (On the Eve) Short film[1]
1975 Monologo (Monologue) Short film
1976 Itim (Black)
1977 Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising
1980 Kakabakaba Ka Ba?
1981 Kisapmata
1982 Batch '81
1984 Sister Stella L
1985 Hindi Nahahati ang Langit (The Sky Cannot Be Divided) The movie was restored and remasted by ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project in 2014.
1987 Bilanggo sa Dilim (Prisoners in the Dark) Video unreleased
1993 Southern Winds: Aliwan Paradise
1999 Bayaning Third World (Third World Hero)


Year Group Category Work Result
1981 Metro Manila Film Festival [2] Best Director Kisapmata Won
Best Story Kisapmata with Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. and Raquel Villavicencio Won
Best Screenplay Kisapmata with Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. and Raquel Villavicencio Won


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