Documentary on Duterte's drug war an official entry to Oscars 2021
Scene from 'Aswang'
Photo release

Documentary on Duterte's drug war an official entry to Oscars 2021

Kathleen A. Llemit (Philstar.com) - February 1, 2021 - 7:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — FAMAS Best Picture "Aswang" is eligible for nomination at the documentary category of the 93rd Academy Awards. 

Alyx Arumpac's gritty documentary on President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war qualified after winning the prestigious White Goose Award at the 12th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival, Asia’s largest documentary festival. The festival took place in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea last September 2020.

"Aswang" follows a group of people whose fates entwine with the growing violence over two years of killings in Manila. Among them is Brother Jun Santiago, a photojournalist and missionary brother who comforts bereaved families and makes a stand against lawlessness, and Jomari, a street kid whose parents are in prison for drug use.

“I am very grateful to Jomari, Brother Jun Santiago of the Redemptorist Brothers, everyone who shared their lives and stories with us and everyone else that I worked with on this film. I am happy that our efforts to shed light on how vast a problem the drug war is in the Philippines is garnering more attention worldwide,” Arumpac said.

Titled after the folkloric, vampiric creature said to prey on humans at night, "Aswang" started production shortly after Duterte was sworn in as president. One of his campaign vows was to eradicate drugs which was referred to as "drug war" within six months in office. 

"Aswang" premiered at the 2019 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where it won the prestigious FIPRESCI Award. It later won the International Feature Competition Grand Prizes at the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM), the Film Festival Dokumenter Jogja, the Prix du Film Professionel at Festival Traces de Vies, the Grand Prix Compétition Nouveaux Talents at Corsica Doc, the Amnesty International Award at the Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, and the Beyond the Screen Competition award at the DocAviv Film Festival.

In July last year, "Aswang" was streamed in the Philippines for a limited time through the film’s official social media pages. It was also screened at the Nation section and at the #HuwagMatakot Halloween Fest of Daang Dokyu Film Festival in October.

Plans are underway for additional screenings. The team behind "Aswang" is collaborating with civic organizations Dakila and Active Vista to reach out to educators, civil society leaders and organizations, church groups, youth leaders, press, urban poor areas and other communities directly impacted by the war against drugs. They are seeking to collaborate with universities, communities, churches, and civil society organizations to screen the film to their constituents.

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