Award-winning Davao film on Lumad showing during Kadayawan

Aug. 17, 2018

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The award-winning film of the Lumad in Mindanao is showing now in Davao City in time for Kadayawan.

Tu Pug Imatuy (The Right to Kill), won the FAMAS 2018 grand jury prize for film and best director awards from FAMAS, Gawad Urian and Sinag Maynila 2017. It is showing now at Gaisano Mall Davao Cinema 5 and Gaisano Toril Cinema 3 from August 15 to 22.

The movie is part of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2018 organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). Tu Pug Imatuy is included in the festival’s Special Feature Section showcasing the award-winning indie movies of the year, which also includes the FAMAS and Urian Best Picture Balangiga: Howling Wilderness.

Tu Pug Imatuy (The Right to Kill) is the story of a Lumad couple who were captured by soldiers. They were tortured and forced to act as guide in the soldiers’ counter-insurgency operation. The movie reflects the Lumad problems of mining and military that is happening in Mindanao.

The film is a milestone for Davao’s indie film movement. It is shot in location in Barangay Baganihan in Marilog District. It casted non-actors who are Lumad. The lead actress Malona Sulatan is a Matigsalug-Manobo who was discovered during location hunting in Baganihan. The lead male actor Jong Monzon is a Manobo-Mandaya. Other Lumad members in the cast are actually evacuees from UCCP Haran.

The movie’s director Arnel ‘Arbi’ Barbarona is a rising filmmaker in Davao, having worked in several award-winning films as cinematographer (Qiyamah, Riddles of My Homecoming, Singgit sa Hilom na Tubig) or short film director. This is Barbarona’s full-length debut in which he earned best director awards. He is the second Davao-born director to win the FAMAS best director trophy.

Barbarona said he made the film after documenting the evacuation of the Manobo Lumad from Talaingod who sought sanctuary in UCCP Haran. He was struck by an interview with an elderly woman named Obunay who survived captivity from soldiers.

“I think the issues are somewhat universal in terms of land rights and the destruction of the Earth and our natural world. There’s an influx of mining in country without really thinking what will happen tomorrow, what will happen to the indigenous people who are living on this land. Capitalism, I think, is the problem. This was one of the messages I wanted to convey. I want there to be peace talks in the Philippines,” Barbarona said in an interview.

Film critic Skilty Labastilla named Tu Pug Imatuy as one of the best films in 2017, noting that “the film is significant at a time when government troops continually attack IP schools in Mindanao and teachers and youth leaders are being hunted down.”

Film reviews noted the film’s “raw beauty” (Stephanie Mayo) and “painfully lyrical images” (Oggs Cruz) that depict the contrast of the beauty of nature in Mindanao where the Lumad are subject to the horror of abuses. Film blogger Renelson Morelos said this is “one of those films from Mindanao that further solidify the region’s reputation as a rich source of cinematic storytelling.”

The film also swept major awards at the SinagMaynila 2017 including Best Screenplay in Sinag for award-winning writer/ director Arnel Mardoquio, best cinematography, best musical score and best actress award for Malona Sulatan.

The screening of the film is on August 15 to 22, at Gaisano Mall Davao Cinema 5 (11 am and 1 pm) and at Gaisano Mall Toril (10:30 am and 12:30 pm).(

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