With the deadly fraternity wars among Filipino youth as a backdrop, Pepe Diokno’s third film, Kapatiran, is a cinematic essay about the filmmaker’s hometown of Manila. Blurring the lines between fact and film, it is a bleak, disjointed portrait of a disjointed city; a meditation on its social cancer.
In my hometown of Manila, we often read news about students involved in fraternity violence. Young men are beaten and sometimes killed in hazing rituals or murdered in fraternity wars. Even law students are involved in this dangerous cycle — but why?demons.
To me, these are not random acts of violence. They are not just the effects of angsty youth. Fraternities are secretive groups that promise life-long connections and an easy way to get ahead. They are a symptom of a bigger problem, a disease that plagues our society. In our country, “who you know” is of primal importance, and rules can be bent by anyone with connections. This tribalism — this lack of nationalism — has allowed the worst of things to persist, from poverty to corruption and murder.
“Kapatiran” is a portrait of this disjointedness; a meditation on our social cancer. It blurs the lines between fact and film, mixing scripted scenes and found footage, in a cinematic conversation. My hope is to break the blindness to this flagrant dysfunction; to hold up mirror and confront our demons.
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