Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Extrajudicial killings on screen

This post is late. I should have done this a few days back. But, as they say, it's better late than never.

For his film "Engwentro" (Clash), Pepe Diokno received the Luigi de Laurentiis Award for a debut film (Lion of the Future) and Orizzonti Award (Best Film) at the 66th Venice Film Festival.

According to its website,
"Engkwentro' tells the story of Richard and Raymond, two teenage brothers on opposite sides of a gang war. Richard is the leader of his gang, ‘Bagong Buwan’ (”New Moon”) while Raymond is just being inducted into “Batang Dilim” (”Children of the Night”), a rival gang led by charming solvent boy, Tomas. Complications arise at a deadly midnight “engkwentro” (clash), when Tomas gives Raymond the task of killing his older brother.

All this happens while the City Death Squad lurks the streets. This real-life vigilante group is allegedly backed by the omnipresent Mayor Danilo Dularte Suarez, and is responsible for many unsolved murders of teen gangsters. Today, they are hunting down Richard. Will they take the younger brother, too?
"Diokno stumbled upon the inspiration for his debut full-length feature film while filming a documentary in Davao on youth behind bars for the nationalist advocacy group RockEd," said Rome Jorge, who wrote a profile of Diokno, "The vision of a new generation."

“I met these two brothers whose names are actually Richard and Raymond," Diokno was quoted as saying. "That was in 2007. I was nineteen when I was doing that documentary. The brothers I met, they were fifteen and seventeen. They were sure they were going to die as soon as they got into the detention facility. They were being chased by the Davao Death Squad [DDS].”

Congratulations to Pepe Diokno and to all the people behind the film. I'm glad that there are people like him who do not shy away from discussing this politically-charged issue through their chosen medium.

Diokno has just paved the way. I hope others will follow suit.

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