James Jones and Olivier Sarbil
Hot Docs, Sheffield, Melbourne, Human Rights Watch, Bergen, Raindance, Zurich, DokuFest,
An inside look at Filipino president Duterte’s corrupt war on drugs.
Pledging zero tolerance for drug dealers and users within the Philippines, Duterte’s offensive resulted in the disturbing extra-judicial murder of thousands of people by police and vigilantes. Facing criticism and pressure, authorities promised to reign in excessive violence. In directors James Jones and Olivier Sarbil film, this comes in the form of new police chief Jemar Modequillo, tasked with overseeing the epicenter of the trouble, Caloocan, Manila. He berates his subordinates for firing excessively, pushes a watchlist program targeting suspected drug dealers and users, and, for awhile, the killings decrease. Modequilla and other police are not the sole focus of the film, however, as the directors also profile the leader of a small street crew, whose drug using father was murdered, as well as a mortician who’s been kept busy since the war on drugs began. The result is a sobering consideration of the impact on society by a leader who has abandoned the rule of law.