At first glance, this lineup of films is about Martial Law, its continuing legacy of violence, plunder, and divisiveness. But looking further, it is also about the scheme and shamelessness of those in power whose victim, ultimately, is the ordinary Filipino. A much closer inspection reveals that this program is about the Filipino's elusive freedom — our unfinished struggles to break free from our oppressors and be treated with dignity — rooted in our colonial past and continuing through our attempts at nationhood.
There is no moving on because we are still in the thick of it. We are not simply dealing with memory but with a rolling and raging history. That is why through decades of restlessness, we are constantly being asked to rise and take a side.
Adversities have both destroyed and shaped the nation. Along the way, the Filipino people have taken it upon themselves to rebuild their homes and lives. With a mix of archival and contemporary images, Ang Lahat ng Bagay ay Magkaugnay puts together documentations of individuals and communities in the face of tragedies and calamities. From visions of colonial and capitalist exploitations to pictures of struggles by indigenous peoples against life-threatening development projects, we map the ecology of extractive practices to debunk dangerous notions of Filipino resiliency.
We interrogate not only historical memory but also the documentarist’s complex relationship with truth and view of reality. The challenge lies in presenting documentary, using identity, politics, and nationhood, and in determining the scope and significance of these immortalized artifacts, largely unseen, underappreciated classics for new audience engagement. By looking at these foundational films that defined the genre and shaped our national imagination — whether direct cinema, propaganda, essay films, mockumentaries, or experimental and hybrid forms — one feels a strong desire to trace the vigilant spirit of the documentary filmmakers who preserved our history’s transformations and collective experiences. “Perception is Real, Truth is Not” aims to speak back to us from various times in the previous century and make us reflect on their discord and continuities to our present, or on our current progress and entanglements in relation to our past.
Some documentaries make it look easy — the immersion in the lives of people, the intrusion in the lives of those who would otherwise remain unknown and unseen. This reality, however, is mediated, filtered, and selected. Armed with maturity and commitment to the subject, the documentarist uses the camera as a guide to explore intimate and difficult spaces, and the consent given to it allows for a profound examination of social problems, modern anxieties, and systemic oppression, many of which are repeated in history, in various timelines of human relationships. The personal has always been political, there is no question about that. But more importantly, in the lives of those in the margins and are often marginally represented in the media, the political has always been and will always be personal.
What makes the Filipino? In defining the Filipino identity, we acknowledge the diversity and differences of an archipelagic nation. We seek to understand this concept through documented stories from more than 7,000 islands, told in over 150 languages. These works, collectively termed as regional films, feature the various topographies, advocacies, perceptions, and cinematic styles born of the teeming traditions in the various places one calls home. By piecing together narratives of human struggle to overcome and own their lived spaces, we embark on an inquiry into the concept of nation that binds these myriad identifications into one.
Carrying over a hundred years of history, where else can documentary filmmaking go? As a form driven by development, which directions, out of the many, can it take? What role does technology in this rapidly evolving information age play in the kinds of documentaries being produced? This program provides glimpses of exciting possibilities, challenges, and explorations of new and unseen territories — illuminating not only for the spirited lives they contain but also for the criticality they spur, always reflecting on the social contexts of their subjects. With a sharp consciousness of the post-truth era, these works are pockets of cinematic contemplation that ask the audience to evaluate every interpretation of truth and every exposition of lie.