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A Thousand Cuts

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A Thousand Cuts
Director: Ramona Diaz | 100 min | 2020 | United States

What would be the result if you put Trump’s malignant narcissism together with Putin’s callously vicious vindictiveness, into the moral vacuum that is Britain’s Johnson, added some seasoning in the form of the Brazilian Bolsonaro’s arrogant self-entitlement, and switched on the blender?

The sludge that would emerge would probably be uncannily like the present president of the Philippines, Eduardo Duterte. In his case, however, topped off with an attitude in which the poor are regarded as vermin not just to be ignored, but to be eliminated.

Fortunately for us, there are journalists of extraordinary courage around the world willing to challenge these macho men, certainly risking their freedom, and possibly also their lives in the battle for press freedom and against the persecution of media. In particular, the Philippines is blessed with such a woman, a woman possessing extraordinary Intelligence, integrity and, most of all, courage — Maria Ressa.

Ressa founded Rappler, an organisation of mostly female journalists, in order to speak truth to power, loudly, lest our freedoms die by “a thousand cuts”. Rappler’s work exposes the roots of Duterte’s campaign of violence, and also of his manipulation of social media, his lies and corruption. Unsurprisingly, harassment and imprisonment follow.

While Ressa is director Ramona Diaz’s main protagonist, she also spends time with pro-Duterte figures, thereby demonstrating that it is when autocratic leaders somehow capture the zeitgeist that they become truly deadly.

But the film takes time to laugh, as Ressa does, and celebrates the good in this world, reminding us that it is precisely because life can be so beautiful that we need to combat tyrants like Duterte. We must make ourselves heard. Thankfully women like Maria Ressa are with us to lead and inspire us along this path.

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