Films, while a good source of entertainment, can also provide powerful takes that bring light to important concerns in society. Start with the Active Vista International Human Rights Festival. Here are five of the 35 films we need you to see and learn from that are available this week.

/ 23 September 2020

It doesn’t take more than a single scroll in social media to know that we’re in a grim state of affairs. This concerns us as Filipinos, but sometimes reading one disappointing headline after another can be mentally taxing.

There’s another way for us to learn about what’s happening in our country while staying sane — watching films. Films, while a good source of entertainment, can also provide powerful takes that bring light to important concerns in society.

Start with the Active Vista International Human Rights Festival. It’s an annual event organized by the artist-activist collective, DAKILA, through its human rights education center, Active Vista. With this year’s theme Walang Pipikit 360 (No One Blinks an Eye), the festival invites us to view human rights and the issues around them from a different perspective.

Part of the festival is the 20/20 Film Screenings, which present 20 feature-length and 20 short films that give insight to different civil, political, and socio-cultural issues of today.

See these issues now on a different lens. Start your binge-watch with these five films:


1) The Kingmaker

Ferdinand Marcos is not a hero — this is a fact proven by historians and victims of his horrific regime. But certain powerful forces want to twist this fact and overturn the narrative.

This is what the 2019 film The Kingmaker projects — the efforts of the Marcos family to rehabilitate their image and return to power, which includes forging alliances with Rodrigo Duterte in his bid for the presidency last 2016 and helming her son Bongbong Marcos to be the next.

This Lauren Greenfield film can be so absurd in all the delusions it reveals that sometimes it reaches the point of comedy. But in contrast, it leaves a striking reminder of the horrors of the Marcos administration and how the Marcoses are burying them to nothingness. This film helps us to #NeverForget.


2) The Cleaners

The internet has served as a springboard to many advancements the world now enjoys today. However, it also created a deep dark web of all things terrible.

Hans Block’s and Moritz Riesewieck’s The Cleaners takes us in an unassuming building in Metro Manila, where sits a cluster of workers that clean the internet of these terrible things — violence, pornography, and even political content. But who decides what gets removed?

This 2018 film takes us to this setting, interrogating and investigating who controls what we see online —  and therefore our opinions and beliefs.


3) On the President’s Orders

Directors James Jones and Olivier Sabil give us On the President’s Orders, a 2019 film that takes a look at President Duterte’s war on drugs through the stories of people on both sides — the Manila police and a family from the slums. How involved is the former in the loss of thousands of lives? How has it impacted the latter?

Just because the war on drugs doesn’t fill the headlines as much as before, doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist. This film serves to refresh our minds of this critical issue.


4) A is for Agustin

Agustin is an Aeta living in a remote area in the Philippines. After getting cheated of his wages by his employer taking advantage of his inability to read and write, he decides to enroll for grade one.

Through the 2019 film A is for Agustin, director Grace Pimentel Simbulan takes us on Agustin’s journey to get an education and make way for better opportunities to give his family a better life. The challenges and struggles he meets along the way will make us root for him — as well as see the conditions of the disadvantaged in terms of access to education.

With the concerns of distance learning implemented in our country amid the pandemic, this makes the film especially relevant.


5) Ang Panahon ng Halimaw

Released in 2018, Ang Panahon ng Halimaw tells the story of a young and brave doctor who opens a clinic to help a poor community from a remote area then suddenly vanishes with no trace. Her husband then sets forth to uncover the truth behind her disappearance.

Filled with figurative imagery and language, the Lav Diaz film provides a grueling picture of our country’s past — the atrocities of Martial Law — and relates it with our present. With the passage of the Anti-Terror Law and the persisting human rights violations, we can’t deny the signs of history repeating. And so we say #NeverAgain.

Be warned though — this film lasts 4 hours. Make sure to start it during day time — or night time if you’re a night owl.

Get the rare opportunity to watch all these films — and 35 more — before the Festival ends this Sunday, September 27 at watch.activevista.ph/activevistaph. Buy your tickets now through the same website or get discounts and bundles at bit.ly/AVTicketOrder!

To know more about the Active Vista International Human Rights Festival, visit activevista.ph or its Facebook page at facebook.com/activevista.