The gut-wrenching documentary on Palawan’s threatened natural resources and valiant environmental defenders brought an emotional audience – including foreign ambassadors – on their feet multiple times.
Closing film, “Delikado,” a documentary on illegal logging in Palawan, screened last August 13, drew the biggest crowd for Cinemalaya 2022, observed festival director Chris Millado.
Directed by Deputy Editor In Chief for Asia Pacific, Agence France Presse, Karl Malakunas, the 96-minute environmental thriller documentary zeroes in on critical socio-environmental issues haunting Palawan, the Philippine’s last frontier. The documentary tackles mostly illegal logging, touches on illegal fishing, and mining, which, as the film uncovered, are largely instituted by big developers and politicians.
Malakunas takes a jab at these issues through the lens of three grassroots champions: Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI) executive director Roberto “Bobby” Chan, former El Nido Mayor Nieves Rosento, and PNNI para-enforcer and land defender Efren “Tata” Balladares.
The documentary elicited an overwhelming response from over 1,400 filmgoers during the screening, with waves of applause reverberating throughout the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo hall. The audience also handed standing ovations individually to the environmental defenders as they, along with Malakunas, took the stage for a post-screening panel discussion with journalist Karen Davila.
“The power and energy in the room was just incredible. It is beyond my dreams to see how the film resonates with Filipinos and how it connects emotionally,” the former Agence France-Presse Manila bureau chief enthused.
Members of the audience took turns during the Q&A session, with many openly expressing support for PNNI and Rosento’s collective endeavors. Among them was British Ambassador to the Philippines and Palau, Laure Beaufils, who praised the film for its courageous and eye-opening take on environmental protection. On Monday, Beaufils met with Malakunas to discuss actionable plans to aid Palawan’s conservationists.
The screening was also attended by Canadian Ambassador Peter MacArthur, and Deputy Egyptian Ambassador Dr. Amin Shaaban.
The event ended on an emotional note as Tata Balladares’ daughter took the mic to express her deep appreciation for her father’s work. Speaking in the vernacular, she shared how she was unaware of the occupational hazards of being a para-enforcer prior to seeing the film. “Before, my father would say not to tell anyone he was my father because it is delikado(dangerous). But I stand before you now to say that even if it’s dangerous, I am proud to call you my father.”
The documentary also received superb reception during a sold-out screening at the recently concluded Melbourne International Film Festival. It was awarded the Sustainable Future Award and Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival 2022, the Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature from the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and Special Mention for Best International Feature at Doc Edge, New Zealand.
Malakunas hopes to bring the film to a wider audience, particularly among the youth and students, through nationwide screenings in the Philippines.For those interested to host a block screening, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +639178004409.