Mike De Leon

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

Mike de Leon
Miguel Pamintuan de Leon

(1947-05-24) May 24, 1947 (age 75)
Alma materUniversity of Heidelberg, Germany
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, cinematographer, producer


He was born in Manila on 24 May 1947 to Manuel de Leon and Imelda Pamintuan.[1] His interest in filmmaking began when he pursued a master's degree in Art History at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.[2]

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 that same year. He produced and served as cinematographer for Lino Brocka's Maynila: Sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag in 1975. He won best cinematography award from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) for Maynila.

De Leon's 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: 1970-79. The film also won him the best director award during the 1978 Asian Film Festival held in Sydney, Australia.[2]

When De Leon created Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising in 1977, it became a tribute to his grandmother Narcisa de Leon (Doña Sisang) to celebrate the centennial of the family's film company, LVN Pictures. 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.[2]

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.[2]

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 were later listed as the Philippines's Ten Outstanding Films of the Decade: 1980-1989 by the Philippines' Urian Awards.[citation needed]

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., he 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. competed for the Golden Lion at the 41st Venice International Film Festival.[2]

De Leon pioneered the use of computer graphics animation for the TV advertising industry in 1988. 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.[2]


Mike de Leon 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.[2]

Selected filmographyEdit

Year Title Notes
1972 Sa Bisperas (On the Eve) Short film; shot but never completed[2]
1975 Monologo (Monologue) Short film; partially lost
1976 Itim (Black) The movie was restored and remastered by the Asian Film Archive in 2019 and 2020. Released internationally as "The Rites of May".
1977 Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising (When You Dream and Wake Up) The movie was restored and remastered by ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project in 2016. Released internationally as "Moments in a Stolen Dream".
1980 Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (Will Your Heart Beat Faster?) The movie was restored and remastered by ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project in 2015.
1981 Kisapmata (In the Blink of an Eye) The movie was restored and remastered by the Asian Film Archive in 2018.
1982 Batch '81 The movie was restored and remastered by the Asian Film Archive in 2017.
1984 Sister Stella L.
Signos (Omens) Short documentary film
1985 Hindi Nahahati ang Langit (The Sky Cannot Be Divided) Remade as the teleserye Walang Kapalit in 2007. The movie was restored and remastered by ABS-CBN Film Restoration Project in 2014.
1986 Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo Music video
1987 Bilanggo sa Dilim (Prisoners in the Dark) First Filipino film shot on analog video
1993 Aliwan Paradise (Entertainment Paradise) Made as part of the anthology film Southern Winds.
1999 Bayaning 3rd World (Third World Hero)
2006 An Actor Remembers Short interview documentary with actor Joseph de Cordova filmed in 1989
2018 Citizen Jake


Year Group Category Work Result
1981 Metro Manila Film Festival[3] 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


  1. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0209672/bio[user-generated source]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mike de Leon profile, KabayanCentral.com; retrieved 27 May 2007.
  3. ^ "Metro Manila Film Festival:1981", IMDB.com; retrieved 2014-04-09.

External linksEdit