Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Velez: A movie not about Mindanao


IT’S a movie titled “Mindanao”. It is about a Moro family besieged with issues of war and poverty that typifies Mindanao. It is directed by an internationally award winning director. It won best film and other awards in the Metro Manila Film Festival.

I have not watched this film, but if a Maguindanaon filmmaker and a Tausug writer criticizes this film for inaccuracy and enforcing stereotypes on the Moro and Mindanao issues, you have to pay attention to that.

Because this is supposed to be a movie about the Moro people. But they said this is not about them.

Tausug writer Amir Mawallil, on his review, wrote how he cringed when he watched this film in Manila, and people were whispering, “So that’s how they are.”

Mawallil’s main critic of this film is how it “reduces an island so full of cultural and ethnic diversity to a single narrative. There are many narratives in Mindanao. To show only one is inaccurate... it becomes a flawed narrative.”

The diversity of Mindanao includes many tribes within the Moro tribes, and also within Mindanao’s Lumad and non-ethnic communities. Each tribe has its own narrative of poverty, war, culture, history and current struggles.

Maguindanaon filmmaker Teng Mangansakan notes the film lacks knowledge on geography and representation. How can a Vinta in Sulu sail in Liguasan Marsh in Central Mindanao? How can a character travel from Davao to Maguindanao in one jeepney ride for four hours?

Mangansakan also chided how one Maguindanao character was made to mix a traditional attire with his military uniform while performing a traditional dance, saying this a “bastardization” of Maguindanao culture.

Both Mawallil and Mangansakan drive the point that the film lacks research and grounding on the geopolitics of the Moro people. For them, this is not about the Moro people or about Mindanao. Representation matters.

Mangansakan said the irony here is how Mindanao filmmakers are winning awards and praises in the past decade with movies showing narratives of the Moro and Lumad, but the decade ends with a film “affirming” Manila’s stereotypes on portraying Mindanao.

He adds it is also ironic that this film is supported by government agencies, in a festival headed by a retired general that validates a “military propaganda film”. I wonder what would Duterte apologists, who like to say “You don’t understand because you’re not from Mindanao”, react to this movie?

I hope these reviews enlighten you whether you’ve watched this film or still plan to. I’m still wondering if I will.


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