Filipino director Adolfo Alix Jr. returns to the Festival with this timely story of a couple caught up in Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs when their son goes missing.
Contemporary World Cinema
Dark is the Night
Adolfo Alix Jr.
Adolfo Alix Jr., one of the Philippines' most adventurous independent filmmakers, returns to the Festival with an immediate, relevant work, Dark is The Night. The subject is Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte's extra-judicial war on the country's drug trade, a policy that has led to, by some estimates, 7,000 deaths. (Duterte has offered to pay for bullets so people could kill anyone suspected of drug dealing, with little or no proof required.)
Middle-aged Sarah and Lando make ends meet by dealing drugs on the side. But the extra income has come at a price. Their unstable, mercurial son Allan is an addict, and when they decide to quit the trade because of the heightened danger, he goes missing. They scour the city for clues to his whereabouts as bodies pile up, frequently dumped in the street with placards proclaiming their guilt.
Central to the film's success is Alix's courage. He interrogates the ease with which some of us consign criminals to the realm of the inhuman. He points out that Duterte's war does little to address the root causes of the drug trade or the police corruption that helps fuel it. One of the best indices of the director's complex awareness of the situation is the Duterte wristband that keeps peeking out from beneath Sarah's shirt sleeve, a poignant reminder that strongmen populists often find hardcore support from those they are most likely to abuse.