24 November 2010

Dukot (Kidnapped) - A Movie on Enforced Disappearances in the Philippines

In time for Human Rights Day (10 December), I would like to recommend a Philippine independent film that has gained national and international critical acclaim, including at the Montreal Film Festival, is currently touring the United States, had its European premiere in The Hague (where it was received well) and will screen in London on 04 December 2010. You can find details on how to get a ticket of only £10 with dinner and after-party included on the official invite from the UK chapter of the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines HERE.

The movie is based on true experiences of (many) real activists who were disappeared. Two widely publicised cases are those of farming activist Raymond Manalo as well as Karen Empeño and Sheryl Cadapan along with their companion, farmer Manuel Merino. The two female students from the University of the Philippines College of Social Science and College of Human Kinetics respectively, were interviewing farmers on social conditions and also campaigning against government corruption. Their abduction was even featured in the UK Independent HERE. You can also read about them on the blog of the Philippine Council for Independent Journalism HERE, as pretty much anywhere on the net if you just google.

Below you find the official trailer which. I would have perhaps cut some of the "dating in the dark" scenes and give the people flashed at the end more seconds to establish who they are (which might not be so clear for people not familiar with the context). But since tragic love stories are a popular theme in the Philippines, I am sure it will make the topic more accessible to a commercial audience, once the movie hits Philippine cinemas in early 2011 (after an initial ban). It'll definitely help me mobilise some politically apathetic Filipinos I know for a screening in Vienna this weekend!

"ATD Entertainment’s “Dukot" is Lamangan’s and Ilagan’s enthusiastic but grim foray into the phenomenon of “desaparacidos” (literally, the disappeared) and extra-judicial killings.

This is no small wonder because both Ilagan and Lamangan were, and still are, political activists who "genuinely fight for freedom and democracy."

Because of their personal experiences in the underground movement, they were able to chronicle real and horrifying events on screen.

Their observations, first-hand accounts and participation in the underground movement naturally means a sympathetic (but objective) presentation of the whole situation.

And, amid mass killings such as those in Ampatuan town and the country's slide down various human rights watchlists, the film "Dukot" is very timely.

Left-leaning mass leaders, journalists, community workers or activists turn up dead or are rendered missing.

Families and friends of these victims quickly point to the military, with their "enemies of the state" lists, or the government, with its dislike for the vaguely defined "insurgency", as the culprits.

The practice of taking hapless victims, then torturing and killing them, began en masse during the Martial Law period under former president Ferdinand Marcos. The term used then for the practice was "salvaging."

- Review from Philippine News Conglomerate ABS-CBN. N/B:
The article is much longer but is full of unnecessary spoilers (it basically summarises the whole movie), so I save you the temptation and won't post a link here.

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