Oblique Resistance

Date of Submission

Spring 2018

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Film and Electronic Arts; Human Rights

Project Advisor 1

Thomas Keenan

Project Advisor 2

Jacqueline Goss

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My documentary work throughout college has explored how large political histories are deeply and intricately embedded in personal narrative. Oblique Resistance is my first documentary to largely bridge the connections between how a single person’s story can reflect a country’s political evolution from past to present. Ramon’s story is a contemplative step-back from the highly technical and investigative storytelling that has been done around Philippine President Duterte’s controversial administration. The reflection seeks to provide an interpretation of current events in the Philippines through a historical and diasporic lens

Making this film was an exceptionally challenging process that required a level of flexibility, creativity, and problem-solving I had not previously encountered before. It was my first attempt at making a film about a current issue that is not only complicated but proved dangerous for my subjects to speak freely about. I started with a much larger idea than the final product and practiced scaling down the visual and narrative scope of the piece while maintaining the desired quality of content.

After multiple trials and errors with the various directions, I decided to focus on Ramon’s story because of his direct engagement with specific histories of oppression in the Philippines and his evolution of support for President Duterte’s ruthless campaign against drugs. The complex nature behind majority Filipino support for the current administration is embodied in Ramon’s past detainment under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his personal involvement with the current drug war. I used archival footage from the period when he was a student activist as a visual bridge between the slow, patient story he tells about his experience under the Marcos dictatorship to the present-day observational footage of him grappling with the effects of the drug war especially within immigrant community. The final decision to put my voice in the beginning brings the viewer immediately into the difficulties I experienced trying to talk to Filipinos about this topic, and also honors the risk Ramon and Fr. Dante Carreda took to speak openly with me on camera.

Oblique Resistance asks the viewer to question their own interpretation of western media coverage of the drug war, and what narratives and connections are largely missing from the conversation. With 10 million Filipinos living abroad, mostly to send money back to their families, how does political turmoil in the homeland reflect in the expansive Philippine diaspora? How is understanding history and movement of the Philippine people crucial in contextualizing the current drug war? The role of Queens and notions of distance/exile in the film further layers the complexities of Filipino perspective on Philippine politics.

I view this piece as a start to a much larger exploration of how the Philippine diaspora reflects and reinterprets Philippine politics and history. Specifically, I want to engage with communities of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) in the Middle East who are on the kafala system (visa sponsorship system), which ties OFW’s to their employers and prohibits them from leaving or changing jobs without permission.

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Open Access

Creative Commons License

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