2020 Sundance Docs in Focus: A THOUSAND CUTS

A THOUSAND CUTS | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

A THOUSAND CUTS
Ramona S Diaz presents a chilling look at the assault on fundamental democratic freedoms in the Philippines.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

In 2016, outsider candidate Rodrigo Duterte upset the political establishment in the Philippines by winning the presidency and promising vengeance and violence. Within hours of taking office, bodies piled up in the streets. Rappler, the country’s top online news site, investigated the murders and revealed a government-sanctioned drug war targeting poor addicts instead of lucrative dealers. In an attempt to suppress independent reporting, Duterte unleashed a powerful disinformation campaign that spread like wildfire throughout social media.

Filmmaker Ramona S Diaz follows key players from two sides of an increasingly dangerous war between press and government. Representing the journalists is fearless Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who, despite arrests and harassment, continues to publish articles holding a lawless regime accountable. On the other side, influencers such as pop-star-turned-government-secretary Mocha Uson start incendiary social media movements and General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa spearheads a public execution campaign against addicts. As each side digs in, we become witness to an epic and ongoing fight for the integrity of human life and truth itself – a conflict that extends beyond the Philippines into our own divisive backyard.

Some Background:

Director/Producer/Writer:

  • Ramona S Diaz
    Past Sundance docs:

    MOTHERLAND (2017)
    IMELDA (2004)

    The Emmy-nominated Diaz received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program for this project. Both of her previous Sundance-premiering projects picked up awards at the festival.

Producer/Editor:

  • Leah Marino
    Past Sundance docs:

    MOTHERLAND (editor)
    IMELDA (editor)

    Marino is a regular collaborator with Diaz, having cut five of her six features. This is her first Sundance producing credit.

Producers:

  • Motto Pictures’ Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, and Carolyn Hepburn
    Combined recent past Sundance docs:

    ONE CHILD NATION (2019)
    INVENTING TOMORROW (2018)
    THE CLEANERS (2018)
    WEINER (2016)
    LIFE, ANIMATED (2016)

    The prolific doc producers behind Brooklyn’s Motto Pictures are two-time Oscar nominees and Emmy Award winners. They also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance doc feature THE MOLE AGENT, in the World Cinema Documentary Competition.

Associate Producer:

  • K Allana de Guzman

    Manila-born de Guzman has a background in international development. Her previous film, TV, and VR work includes projects for POV, MIT, HBO, and the Food Network.

Executive Producers:

  • Laurene Powell Jobs
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE PRICE OF FREE (fka KAILASH) (2018)
    BISBEE ’17 (2018)
    BENDING THE ARC (2017)

    Powell Jobs is also an executive producer of fellow 2020 Sundance US Documentary Competition titles TIME and BOYS STATE. She is the president and founder of the Emerson Collective, which supports social entrepreneurs who work to remove barriers to opportunities through social justice initiatives, including education and immigration reform, and is a co-owner of Concordia Studio.

  • Davis Guggenheim
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? (2019)
    BISBEE ’17
    THE PRICE OF FREE
    AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL: TRUTH TO POWER (2017)

    The Oscar-winning Guggenheim is also an executive producer of fellow 2020 Sundance US Documentary Competition titles BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS; TIME; and BOYS STATE as chief creative officer of Concordia Studio.

  • Nicole Stott
    Recent past Sundance docs:

    WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
    BISBEE ’17
    WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST (2018)
    DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD (2015)
    CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM (2015)
    LISTEN TO ME MARLON (2015)

    Stott also serves as an executive producer of BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS; BOYS STATE; and TIME as EVP Nonfiction Films & Series for Concordia Studio. She was previously the longtime head of documentary at Passion Pictures.

  • Jonathan Silberberg
    Past Sundance docs:

    WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
    BISBEE ’17
    THE PRICE OF FREE

    Silberberg is also an executive producer of BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS and BOYS STATE and co-executive producer of TIME as president of Concordia Studio. The Emmy-nominated producer was previously a longtime producer at RadicalMedia.

  • David J Cornfield and Linda A Cornfield
    Past Sundance docs:

    WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (2018)
    INVENTING TOMORROW
    AKICITA: THE BATTLE OF STANDING ROCK (2018)
    DARK MONEY (2018)
    CHASING CORAL: THE VR EXPERIENCE (2017)
    CHASING CORAL (2017)
    CHASING ICE (2012)

    The Cornfields are philanthropists and environmentalists supporting projects that offer innovative, pragmatic, and sustainable solutions to complex current problems. They also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance doc feature THE SOCIAL DILEMMA, in Documentary Premieres.

Assistant Editors:

  • Katrina De Vera
    Past Sundance docs:

    PAHOKEE (2019)

  • Susan LaMarca

    This is LaMarca’s first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
Diaz’s personal background and history of highlighting Filipino topics in her work uniquely position her to explore the disturbing present state of Duterte’s Philippines, an almost mirror-image of America’s own eroding democracy. In intrepid journalist Maria Ressa, she has found a charismatic yet humble figure on the frontlines of the president’s war on liberty, perfectly contrasted with the arrogance of the regime insiders profiled.

More Info:
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For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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