Comparisons between Brillante Mendoza’s drug war series, Lav Diaz’s anti-tyranny stance stir netizens
Reactions were mixed when it was made known this week that Brillante Mendoza’s drug war series “Amo” will be the Philippines’ first in the streaming service Netflix, attracting both support and opposition from all over.
Brillante’s “Amo” is a depiction of the ongoing drug war in the Philippines which Mendoza has been quoted as calling “necessary.” Since the announcement, many have taken to social media and online petitions to try to put a stop to the airing of “Amo” on Netflix, which just premiered on April 9.
One of those who spoke against the airing of “Amo” was Luzviminda Siapo, mother of 19-year-old Raymart Siapo from Navotas who perished in the drug war last month. Siapo launched a petition on change.org where she beseeched the streaming giant Netflix to stop the airing of the series.
The Asian Network of People who use Drugs (ANPUD) and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) also released an open letter last April 6, demanding Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to cancel the streaming of “Amo”.
“Glorifying President Duterte’s war on drugs is the glorification of mass murder, killings, and human rights abuses,” said Judy Chang, executive director of INPUD, as per the ANPUD website. “This has real implications for causing further harm to the lives of people who use drugs, their families, and communities in the Philippines and beyond.”
“The lives of people who use drugs — our lives — are not tools and instruments to be used for political capital nor public entertainment,” added Chang.
Meanwhile, a YouTube video of Lav Diaz, a highly-acclaimed Filipino independent filmmaker and a contemporary of Mendoza, has been making the rounds on social media in the past couple of days. The video was uploaded by the Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival last February and showed the press conference of Diaz for his musical film, “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw”.
“The Filipino struggle is humanity’s struggle just the same, that’s why you can relate to our stories as well,” Diaz was found saying. “Now with fascism and barbarism, it’s everywhere you know, we have the same struggles. Well, we still we have guys like Duterte, Trump, and all those motherf******.”
Meanwhile film producer Bianca Balbuena, seated beside Diaz, shared that the reason why they chose to shoot the film in Malaysia was “because of the political instability in the Philippines and the pressuring issue that we are tackling in the film.”
Many netizens started to compare Diaz and Mendoza, with Carlos Conde, New York Times journalist and Human Rights Watch researcher, tweeting today, “Unlike the Duterte sycophant @brillante_ma Mendoza, here’s one director whose really really long films I have watched and thoroughly enjoyed. Why can’t @netflix stream Lav Diaz’s masterpieces, instead of the ‘drug war’ PR video ads called ‘Amo’?”
“Lav Diaz > Brillante Mendoza any day,” tweeted netizen Maoui (@ragingmaOui) in April 5. “Lav Diaz has ben consistent with his stance on tyranny. Most of films reflect the horrendous stories of martial law.”
“Mike de Leon and Lav Diaz should talk to Brillante Mendoza to set his mind correctly,” wrote Twitter user Adso Abulafia (@AdsoAbulafia) in a picture of physician and INQUIRER columnist Gideon Lasco with film director Mike de Leon and Atom Araullo last April 4.
“I’m sure Lino Brocka wouldn’t approve of Mendoza,” said Abulafia.
Actress Agot Isidro, too, stands against Mendoza’s series as she shared last April 8 on Twitter a link to Paalam.org, an online site that pays homage to all those who died in the drug war. “Ito? Hindi ito totoo?” asked Isidro.
But amidst all the criticisms, however, Mendoza upholds that “Amo” has real events as its foundation. “The Filipino audience has to look beyond what the pictures show,” shared Mendoza last April 9 on his Twitter page. “At the end of the day, it is not about being controversial, but simply being truthful about the issues that surround us.”
Mendoza added, “We have to acknowledge that there are problems going on and face reality.” JB