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.
Ramona S. Diaz, Director/Producer
Ramona S. Diaz, Director/Producer, is an award-winning Asian American filmmaker best known for her compelling character-driven documentaries that combine a profound appreciation for cinematic aesthetics and potent storytelling. Her films have demonstrated her ability to gain intimate access to the people she films—be they rock stars, first ladies, dissidents, teachers or mothers —resulting in keenly observed moments and nuanced narratives. While she has focused exclusively on stories of Filipinos and Filipino Americans, the themes of Ramona's stories are universal. Her films have screened and won awards at Sundance, the Berlinale, Tribeca, Silverdocs, IDFA, and many other top-tier film festivals. She has received funding from ITVS, CAAM, Sundance Documentary Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Institute, Catapult Film Fund, and Chicken & Egg among others. All four of Ramona's feature length films – Imelda, The Learning, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey and Motherland - have broadcast on either POV or Independent Lens on PBS. Recently she was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.