BUNSO (The Youngest) documentary on children in prisons in the Philippines
Catch the premiere screening of BUNSO (a documentary on children in prisons in the Philippines)
venue: ImaginAsian Theatre
239 E. 59th st. (bet 2nd and 3rd avenue)
Date: May 24, Wednesday
Q and A with the filmmakers follows after the screening
For ticket reservations: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917 476 7807
2006-05-11 00:32:08 UTC
Mar 12 2008
24 May 2006 00:05
This would be very interesting. I might be able to see it.
very good thank’s
is there a french version ?
Would love to watch the documentary, looks very interesting. is it possible to order a copy somehow, can I find it on amazon or elsewhere?
carina evangelista <email@example.com> wrote:
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 11:03:22 -0400
From: “carina evangelista” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Congratulations to all for BUNSO’s successful screening
I felt really bad not having been able to catch last Wednesday’s
screening but Toti, you’re right about the “gitla” factor of Ditsi and
Nana’s films. Ditsi, Margaret wants to see your film a third time and
is even encouraging her son and her grandchildren to see it, too.
I know you’re in the midst of receiving a lot of fan mail but here was
an email exchange between Renato and me after we saw “Bunso” early
this year. I think the evidence of the power of a film is the amount
of discussion it generates.
thanks for the invite, Carina. i thought the film was quite an
experience—very well edited and packed with many moments that give
you insight into the problem.
to me, the film’s climax was the bunso’s “trial” were he faces his
mother and his jail companions. what an incredible face off. the child
is gifted with clarity inspite of all the pain, suffering, threats,
and jeering. that scene alone says many things about this society we
live in and the many myths perpetuated in this culture.
listen to the bunso bring up the issue of rank—even police who have
rank get imprisoned for beating others, what more his parents. and the
mother replies by pointing out that she outranks the police simply
because “i gave birth to you, so i have the right to kill you.” the
bunso challenges her to do so and put him out of his misery. they try
to shut him up and call his defiance misbehaviour. they threaten him
with isolation and imprisonment with the “crazies.” but he has to
speak his truth. that’s the perpetuation of myths and the rule by the
majority over there…the bunso is an incredible child.
the editing and camera work was masterfully done. even without a voice
over narrative the film’s direction was clear. i like lean
productions, simple and layered presentations. it’s made more powerful
by this kind of treatment, because this way you see so much more.
Yes, Bunso’s “trial” was nothing short of riveting. For me, the most
powerful indictment of the film is the hypocrisy and the skewed logic
of all the grown-ups. Everything that came out of the babe’s
mouth—despite the crowd’s derision—was not only true but highly
intelligent. His mind was so sharp, quick, and lucid because it is
driven by true logic and not by societal illogic. All that the
grown-ups could retort were threats and silly invocations of bowls of
chili. But his body language was heart-rending to watch. He was in
turns flailing his arms and then tucking them under his thighs or
tight close to his chest. You could feel his desperation. He knew
that if he didn’t get out soon, he was done for. And his soul was
decrying the betrayal of the horror of a mother who would assuage her
guilt by visiting him in jail but in fact has obviously left him there
so that he’s one less mouth to feed and one less life to nurture.
The hypocrisy of the adults was astounding, even Tony’s mother’s
neighbor scolding him to get rid of his vices when his very parents
were the king and queen of vice themselves. Finally, one can tell
that the reason these boys landed in jail is not just from their
desperation to survive but primarily because in fact they are indeed
intelligent. Intelligent enough to understand that singing those
church songs to dark-tinted windows all day would not exactly feed
them. Intelligent enough to understand and embody Robin Hood without
having the literary reference at all. I find nothing but tenderness
and elegance—absolute sophistication—in these bare-footed kids who
know something about life and the world no philosopher could ever
And the issues that could be tackled expand exponentially: from the
ache in our hearts as we hear the pure sound of a boy’s singing to the
child’s fight by sheer tightened fist and gritted teeth; the poverty
that itself is prison to young and adult, cop and robber alike; the
violence wreaked by poverty; the unspoken hell wrought by economic
injustice that affects lives whose faces have been rendered abstract
when they are referred to as “the huddled masses” when in fact what is
blighted is the pure voice of a child forsaken by the world it was
born to and what is bludgeoned is the pure love of a mother pushed to
the bottle by her misery. Who could have rendered better an image of
Pieta than that captured moment when the boy laid his tired head on
his mother’s lap?
Ditsi and Nana’s mastery is in portraiture. The subjects’ humanity is
so pure no matter how squalid and oppressive their circumstances might
be that they speak directly to the humanity of their audience. We as
viewers are left with a complex cocktail of shame, humility,
compassion, rage, and ultimately fraternity—the most effective
catalyst for activism. You begin to see the abject as someone who
could very well be your brother and you cannot help but screech and
rail at the system that dares reduce him to a tattered shirt and a wet
floor on which to sleep.
James Baldwin wrote: ’’It is a terrible, an inexorable, law that one
cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own: in
the face of one’s victim, one sees oneself." The lust for dignity
that these children displayed enjoins us to shed the hypocrisy of
notions of our own humanity if we cannot protect and honor theirs.
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