Movies & TV

Documentary Festival to Feature the Most Compelling Philippine Docus in the Last 100 Years

Daang Dokyu is the largest documentary film festival to be organized in the country.
IMAGE UNSPLASH/DAANG DOKYU
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Daang Dokyu is the most ambitious documentary film festival ever organized in the Philippines. It features the largest compilation of documentaries and documentary filmmakers, converging different sectors from television, cinema, and different media.

According to the organizers of Daang Dokyu, documentaries in the Philippines actually predate the creation of films in the country.

“We discovered that in 1911, there was a documentary in Cebu about the making of abaca. It made us realize that Philippine documentaries actually predate films by almost a decade!” says Baby Ruth Villarama, one of Daang Dokyu’s festival directors.

“The documentary is a seven-minute footage with French title, so we assumed it was shot by European filmmakers,” she adds.

 “So far, when we launched the call last November, we received so far 1,500 submissions on different subjects from different regions in the Philippines, and some foreign produced documentaries about the Philippines,” says Villarama.

The festival will run for six days, marking the centennial of Philippine cinema and documentaries. The festival provides a space for debate and dialogue in a time of fake news and disinformation as well as a look back to the country’s past.

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Festival will showcase documentaries from 1920s to 2010s

Festival organizers revealed that foreigners helped in pushing the growth of Philippine documentaries.  For example, in the 1980s, a group of Japanese filmmakers traveled to the Philippines just to document the situation political and environmental situation in the country, with particular interest on the EDSA Revolution, the Smokey Mountain situation, and the growing disparity between the social classes then.

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“It’s the stories and the historical events that dictate how documentaries are formed throughout the decades and the years,” say festival directors Monster Jimenez and Jewel Maranan.

Instead of focusing on the chronology of events, Daang Dokyu will focus on themes that are “timely and necessary,” according to Villarama. That makes it easier and more practical to curate more than 1,500 documentary submissions for the festival. 

On the first day, the theme will be Environment. Films about the environment from as early as the 1920s will be shown, including the Culion documentary of 1929 and the Taal eruption of 1965.

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“We discovered those films only now. This proves that whatever piece of history that was documented before still resonates to events now, like the changing of the guards of our political system, it’s still echoing in the films we are reviewing,” says Villarama.

Another theme will be Nations, which a vast topic, that can be about a country, and its people, and its politics.

On the third day, the Festival’s theme will be on Localities, which are regional documentaries from the Visayas and Minanado.

Another theme will be Taboos. “These are typical off-the-record topics like gender sensitivity and peculiar topics,” adds Villarama.

Finally, the Festival will also have feature a theme called the Future. These will be about the trends today, like virtual and augmented reality, short films done by students, and more.

Daang Dokyu will exhibit films curated and presented with Q&As with filmmakers. It will culminate with the first-ever Philippine Documentary Forum, which will be the largest gathering of documentary filmmakers in the country.

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Daang Dokyu is slated from March 16 to 21, 2020 at Cine Adarna at the University of the Philippines.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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