In times where the poor are abused and the weak are silenced, art is one of the many powerful tools we can use to voice out our stand against an oppressive system that rules the country. With daily news of killings slowly becoming a normality, days of darkness are truly upon us. We are not just at war with drugs but also with ourselves — our beliefs, the people we stand up to, the country we try so damn hard to fight for every single day of our lives.
Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino and Toronto International Film Festival entry “Madilim ang Gabi” (Dark Is The Night) tells a timely narrative of the administration’s ongoing war on drugs. Directed by Adolfo Alix Jr., the film illustrates the downside of war on drugs — especially for the poor and small-time drug peddlers who could easily end up dead in the middle of the night.
Like many other films before it, Madilim Ang Gabi offers enlightenment on the dark side of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs and why it has done the country more harm than good.
Madilim Ang Gabi centers on the life of Sara (Gina Alajar) and Lando (Phillip Salvador) who attempt to get out of a drug syndicate in the fear of becoming one of the many victims of the government’s “Oplan Tokhang”. The couple struggles to free themselves off of the illegal business as their son Alan (Felix Rocco) goes missing and they suspect that the syndicate they’re involved in may be behind it.
The film was set during the start of Pres. Duterte’s presidency and how authorities who have connection to drug businesses have also “transitioned” to power — trying to save their own asses while leaving the helpless minorities out in the crossfire. Ready to be killed, left out in the streets, and tagged as “Pusher ako. Wag tularan.”
Sara and Lando’s story mirrors the reality of those who peddled drugs and can’t seem to find a way out. Whether they surrender to the authorities or not, there’s no guarantee that they won’t end up dead. It’s a vicious cycle of dirty politics where the poor is always on the losing end and a pawn that the higher-ups can easily get rid of to save themselves.
Aside from its timely narrative, the film also offers a powerhouse cast (as if Gina Alajar and Phillip Salvador’s outstanding performance isn’t enough yet). You’ll be surprised to see big names in the film who turns out to be characters you never thought they would be. It feels like these artists have come together to make a collective stand against the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs and the inhumane killings that has taken over the country.
Madilim Ang Gabi is one the political films these days that talk about the cyclical nature of today’s war on drugs and the alarming rise of extra-judicial killings in the country. Throughout the film, Pres. Duterte’s declaration of war against illegal drugs and how he vows to eradicate drug problems by killing anyone using or involved in it, is heard whenever Sara listens to news from a local radio station.
The film echoes the sentiments of families of EJK victims and others opposing the anti-drug campaign where instead of offering a proper rehabilitation program for drug users, people are mercilessly killed — “like animals”.
“Madilim Ang Gabi” was screened during the run of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2018 last August 15-21 in selected cinemas nationwide.
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