How much would you give up for the right to speak the truth? Would you give up your life, your freedom? In the documentary “A Thousand Cuts” produced, written and directed by Ramona S. Diaz tells the story of Journalist Maria Ressa who places the tools of the free press—and her freedom—on the line in defense of truth and democracy.
It’s a riveting tale about the abuse of power by an authoritarian President and a government complicit in suppressing the right of free speech. The tactics used to discredit the journalists included spreading misinformation, creating fake accounts, attacking the journalists on social media, and inciting some citizens to threaten them with bodily harm and death. President Duarte himself leading the hateful rhetoric with his own malevolent words. During press conferences, he would clearly call out his distaste for the journalists without fear of retribution and in many instances, his use of language to express his views was by far extremely unpresidential.
When first elected, President Duarte vowed to end crime with his “War On Drugs Campaign” with posters all over the city proclaiming his fierce commitment to the cause and his slogan “If You Do Drugs, I Will Kill You”. In the beginning, people saw a shining light of hope in President Duarte that maybe finally there would be an improvement in their lives. It’s easy to lure a country to believe in anyone who seems to give them hope and an opportunity for a better life. But when the killings escalated and became more execution-style assassinations the media took notice. Maria and the publication she worked for Rappler started to sense a pattern that many of the killings appeared to target the marginalized Filipinos especially the young men.
With the threat of her freedom at stake, Maria goes full speed ahead to protect the truth and the democracy of the Philippines. Like most corrupt leaders and government when an activist and especially a journalist won’t be silent they find a law that they can arbitrarily change to suit their agenda. In doing so they now had the means to issue an arrest warrant for Maria Ressa that can lead to several years in jail.
Ressa’s battle for justice is ongoing as she was found guilty of cyber libel last month in a blatant attempt to silence one of the most outspoken critics of the Philippine President. The alarming result is not only an attack on Democracy in the Philippines but also a warning shot to the rest of the world. Ressa’s lawyer Amal Clooney (also featured in the film) penned this Op-Ed last month underscoring the implications of this trial.
“ A Thousand Cuts” should definitely be a wake call for all journalists around the world whose job is to report the truth without bias and to feel safe doing their jobs. And when journalists and media can be silenced in a democracy by seeking the truth or voice a different opinion then surely the people will be next. But as Maria states to all, who will listen “we must not be afraid”.
Special LiveStream Q&A Opening Weekend Director Ramona S. Diaz and subject Maria RessaIn conversation with Christiane Amanpour
Sunday, August 9th at 11:00 AM ET / 8:00 AM PT
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