Sundance features film following Maria Ressa’s fight for truth and democracy
By Jared Bray, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau
SALT LAKE CITY — A film that follows a Philippine journalist’s fight for press freedom premiered at Sundance Film Festival last week.
Directed by award-winning Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona Diaz, “A Thousand Cuts” takes viewers to the Philippines, where the free press has allegedly been under siege since President Rodrigo Duterte took office three and a half years ago.
“I have built a career on making films about Filipino and Filipino Americans, and I think this is one of the most important stories that have come of late in the Philippines, so I couldn’t not do it,” Diaz said. “I couldn’t turn away.”
Diaz’s documentary zooms in on veteran journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who’s become the target of both on and offline attacks following her news outlet’s critical reports about Duterte and his bloody war on drugs.
“It touches on all the things that are happening globally, I think,” Diaz said. “The rise of disinformation, the rise of authoritarianism.”
According to the film’s central figure, those issues — particularly the spread of digital disinformation and its eroding effect on democracy — can also be seen in the United States.
“You can see the similarities between our two countries,” Ressa said. “We have similar types of leaders and similar systems of democracy that have been undermined by social media.”
But Ressa remains optimistic about the future. That’s why she and her team of journalists joined Diaz in Utah, promoting the documentary and answering questions from Sundance audiences.
“It helps get our message out,” Ressa said. “The only defense journalists have is to shine the light.”
With her film’s five Sundance screenings in the books, Diaz will now take “A Thousand Cuts” to other elite film festivals around the world.