Award-winning international documentaries to have their Philippine premiere at the first AGITPROP film festival
Award-winning films about activism and social justice movements in many parts of the world are slated to headline the first AGITPROP International Film Festival on Peoples Struggles to be held in Manila on July 2-4, 2011. To highlight the festival is the documentary Cultures of Resistance by Brazilian filmmaker Iara Lee. The film, which chronicles the various ways by which people in different countries use art and music as a medium of struggle against exploitation and violence, bagged the best documentary awards in the Tiburon and the Steps International Film festivals.
The director Iara Lee is a social justice activist and was among the passengers of the MV Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli Navy in May 2010 after attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees. The attack led to the murder of many humanitarian workers.
Another award winning documentary to be featured in the festival is Mirage of El Dorado by Canadian director Martin Frigon. Produced by the Productions Multi-Monde, the film exposes the environmental and ecological threats posed by mining operations of several Canadian companies in Chile. The documentary won the Grand Prize in the 26th International Environmental Film Festival in Paris and the 7th International Digital Film Festival in Chile.
Meanwhile, set to close the festival is The Yes Men Fix the World by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. The documentary follows the journey of two political activists as they pull pranks on top executives of giant corporations and institutions responsible for policies and actions that threaten the general welfare of people around the world. It won the audience award in the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, 2009 Berkshire International Film Festival and the Planet Doc International Film Festival and was among the official selections at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the United States.
AGITPROP will feature a total of 30 films comprised of full length documentaries and short features from both local and foreign filmmakers including Joel Lamangan, Bonifacio Ilagan, and Urian-Awardee Pam Miras, among others . Lamangan’s 2009 film DUKOT (Disappeared), which was written by Ilagan, is the festival’s feature film for the Justice and Human Rights Category.
Festival director and Southern Tagalog Exposure (ST eXposure) founding member RJ Mabilin explains that aside from promoting the interest and struggles of the oppressed people all over the world, the festival also seeks to support films committed to social change. “It takes the role of giving a much needed venue for films and filmmakers that dare present social realities that are often silenced and confused by the dominant modes and channels of information,” explains Mabilin.
The name of the festival takes its inspiration from the educational/cultural campaign in the Soviet Union during the 1920s after the October Revolution, when films became effective tools for arousing and educating the masses. AGITPROP is being organized by the ST eXposure, along with other Philippine-based multimedia and cultural groups Mayday Philippines, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Tudla Productions, Kodao Productions, and the Free Jonas Burgos Mov’t. Asia pacific online video site EngageMedia also helped in curating AGITPROP.
Other groups and institutions who are taking part in putting up the festival are the Congress of Teachers for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND-UP), the UP Diliman University Student Council, the UP Film Institute, and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Southern Luzon Jurisdiction (UCCP SLJ) among others. The opening of the festival will be held at the Media Center of the UP College of Mass Communication while the closing night will be at the main theatre of UP Film Institute’s Cine Adarna (Film Center).
AGITPROP is being organized alongside two international events to be held also in July here in the country – the International Festival of People’s Rights and Struggles (IFPRS) and the 4th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
The ILPS is an international organization promoting freedom and democracy which at present includes more than 350 member organizations from over 40 countries. The IFPRS, on the other hand, is an initiative of ILPS member organizations to give venue for the exchanges between sectoral groups around the world on issues of human rights, livelihood, welfare, women’s rights, arts and culture, and social justice, among others.
Both events seek to forge a stronger and broader solidarity among organizations and individuals in the struggle to advance and defend the peoples’ genuine democratic rights and aspirations throughout the world.