Pinoy indie human rights film shocks audiences in Europe

By Brady Eviota, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Dec 16 2010 11:59 AM | Updated as of Dec 16 2010 09:16 PM

BERN, Switzerland - A powerful film on human rights abuses in the Philippines has shocked audiences during its showings here in Europe.

“Dukot” (Desaparecidos) tackles the reality of forced abductions and the torture and killings of political activists in the Philippines.

Directed by Joel Lamangan, “Dukot” stars Allen Dizon and Iza Calzado as the abducted activists, and veteran stars Gina Alajar and Robert Arevalo, among others, as parents of the desaparecidos.

Rio Mondelo of Migrante Europe, which sponsored the showings, said audiences in Europe were shocked at the brutality of the human rights situation depicted in the film.

“Especially sa mga puti, talagang shocked sila sa mga eksena ng torture, sa mga pagpatay. 'Tsaka dun sa kabuuan ng istorya ng pelikula,” said Mondelo.

He added: “Ang sabi nila, malayo sa karanasan nila. Hindi nila matanggap na sa bansang kagaya ng Pilipinas, nangyayari pa ang mga iyon.”

He said there were walk-outs in the audience during showings in Brussels, Amsterdam and the Hague in the Netherlands, and in major cities in Austria and Italy.

This writer saw a woman walk out during the showing in Bern, while others in the audience covered their faces or looked down during the torture scenes.

A sobbing Swiss man also rushed out of the Reithalle cinema here after the showing.

True picture

But Migrante Europe and the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines said they would continue to sponsor showings of “Dukot”.

The film received an “R” rating in the Philippines but has already been shown abroad, including in the United States, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong.

Mondelo said “Dukot” is a pioneer film of sorts.

“Wala pang pelikulang sa panahon ni Gloria Arroyo at ngayon kay Presidente Aquino na nagpapakita ng tunay na nangyayari sa human rights situation sa Pilipinas,” said Mondelo.

“Ito ang pinakamalapit na pagpapakita sa medium ng pelikula ng tunay na human rights situation sa Pilipinas, yung mag pagpapatayan, yung mga pagdukot,” he said.

Anny Hefti of the Samahang Pilipina Bern also welcomed the showing of the film in Bern.  

“We are just too comfortable here. It’s about time that Filipinos get active because it’s really happening. People in the Philippines are getting kidnapped and killed. It’s good that other Filipinos will be made aware of this reality,” Hefti said in the open forum after the showing.

“We are trying to convey to the world that in the Philippines, political killings, disappearances and violations of human rights are still being committed,” added Jake Clemencio, a Migrante member in Bern.

Signatures collected

After the showing, audiences were asked to sign a petition letter asking for the release of the “Morong 43” and other political prisoners in the Philippines.

The collected signatures were handed over the next day to the Philippine embassy here in Bern.

Mondelo said that he tells audiences in Europe that they can do something even if they are far away.

“I tell them, think of the power of signatures when it reaches the powers that be. They can probably ignore a hundred signatures, but not thousands of signatures,” he said.