Lino Brocka has been called the Filipino Fassbinder, both for his prolific output (40 films since 1970, in addition to directing a popular theater troupe), and for his method of harnessing popular cinema--in particular, the melodrama--as a forum for exploring the politics of human relations in a corrupt society. In Bona, against an authentic backdrop of lower-middle-class life in Manila, he develops a fascinating tale of obsessive love. 18-year-old Bona is infatuated with a two-bit movie star, Gardo, and habitually skips school and housework to catch his shooting schedule. One day, she follows him home and becomes the accidental witness to his beating by a gang of thugs. She dresses Gardo's wounds, stays the night, and eventually moves in with the actor, who receives her attentions while he continues to bring home women every night. Rejected by her family, rejecting in turn a young man who is in love with her, Bona stays with her loutish idol until, one day, her love suddenly swerves. For the role of Bona, Brocka chose the actress Nora Aunor, who is herself one of the most adored of Filipino movie stars; with her dark features, she is the idol of the lower classes and the scourge of the upper crust (although she has won several critics' awards, including one for Bona). Brocka comments on the fanaticism of Nora Aunor's fans, called “the Noranians.” “I tie it up with the religious fanaticism of the people. There is not much difference between a movie star and a saint.... A lot of her fans are rejected by their families...some have given up husbands, others a good job. You have to pass through a certain crisis to become a Noranian.”

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