The in-progress film Saturno asks, what happens to the ghosts of Duterte’s drug war?

In a country like the Philippines, our political reality exists alongside the mythical, folkloric aspects of our culture. Traffic and trapos are as much a part of our lives as, say, Catholic school ghost stories and the tradition of pagpag.

For her upcoming film, director Bianca Catbagan, known for her other works such as Paraluman and Supermodel, envisions a world in which these two things come together to chilling effect. Saturno imagines a future where the souls of those slain by Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war are not quite at rest. The film has its own Indiegogo page, and is currently looking for more financial support. If you’re itching to see more political cinema, you now have the chance to directly influence its success.

We ask Bianca and her co-director Apa Agbayani who previously worked together on Letters to the Future about what to expect from Saturno, and why political art is needed now, more than ever.

 

Young STAR: In the crowdfunding page, you say that Saturno is set “in an alternate future, where the world of tormented spirits merges with the world of the living.” What was the inspiration behind this kind of story?

Bianca: Almost two years ago, I was looking for inspiration for the next film I wanted to make. What came to me was a story that involved a ghost that comes back and shows himself to a loved one. I didn’t know what this meant then, but combining this idea with my stance on the drug war, it became the world I wanted to set my film in.

Apa: We wanted to make use of the Philippines’ rich mythology and mysticism to draw out insights on the nation’s current reality. The question was: What if the thing Duterte believes to be a cleansing of the physical world is in fact polluting the spiritual world with cruel, vengeant spirits? How has the body, which we view as sacred, become so disposable?

 

The question was: What if the thing Duterte believes to be a cleansing of the physical world is in fact polluting the spiritual world with cruel, vengeant spirits? How has the body, which we view as sacred, become so disposable?

 

YS: Once the film comes out, how do you think it will be received by Duterte supporters? Is it a concern for you to perhaps appeal to these people? Or do you think negative reactions are inevitable?

B: The dream is to affect people, to make them think about why they support the drug war. Words have become futile, especially online, but maybe a film that makes them feel something could change their minds.

A: As an empath, Bia really takes cinema from this perspective that’s really more human. It’s a film that’ll creates a dystopian landscape, but it’s rooted in the emotional journey of the characters. And because it takes that fictional human perspective, it might be easier to make an appeal that way. I’m sure there’ll be some backlash but this has always felt like an important story. Whatever backlash comes (A Mocha Uson Blog post? A small shoutout in a Duterte speech? We can dream.), I think it’s worth the opportunity to change people’s minds here and to present this story to the world.

 

As an empath, Bia really takes cinema from this perspective that’s really more human. It’s a film that’ll creates a dystopian landscape, but it’s rooted in the emotional journey of the characters.

 

YS: What are the difficulties you’re experiencing as a filmmaker, creating a crowdfunded film?

B: It’s difficult to understand why it takes so much money to make a short film (in my case, I’m trying to raise around one million pesos), but with the scope of what I want to achieve, the film is going to be expensive. And it will be hard to communicate that to an audience who only sees the project online. I wish I could personally speak to each individual and convince them to contribute to our film, but an online presence can only do so much.

 

YS: For you, why is political art more crucial than ever?

B: This world sucks. Look around you.

On top of that, there is so much bad shit, purely pa-artsy, no meaning shit, things that just make this already messy world even messier. What’s the point of making films, art, or music when you don’t have something good to say? We have to face these problems head on and call out other people’s bullshit. Incite conversation. Get people talking. We can’t just sit back and watch as people are being killed on the streets.

 

You can give your financial support to the team behind Saturno through their crowdfunding site.

 

Tags:
#culture #movies #politics

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