The film, which premiered April 29 at the Hot Docs Canadian Intl. Documentary Festival, is the directorial debut of award-winning journalist Karl Malakunas. “Delikado” is produced by two-time Emmy nominees Marty Syjuco and Michael Collins (POV’s “Almost Sunrise,” “Give Up Tomorrow”), as well as Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala.
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“Delikado” takes place in the Philippines on the island of Palawan, a Unesco World Heritage site with one of the oldest, largest and most diverse rainforests in the world. It is also the country’s “last ecological frontier” and one of the deadliest places for land defenders in the world, next to Brazil, the Congo and Colombia. The film follows three inspirational leaders – a charismatic lawyer, an ex-illegal logger and a fearless politician – as they work with indigenous communities trying to save their increasingly valuable natural resources from being plundered.
“Delikado” also offers an exposé of President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” in the Philippines, which has claimed thousands of lives – showing it chiefly as a tool for Duterte and his allies to control the levers of economic and political power. These machinations will have an influence on voters in the next elections in the Philippines (set for May 9), both at a national level and in Palawan.
“A land defender is killed every two days around the world as they strive to protect their local environments from being destroyed by politicians and powerful business figures,” Malakunas said. “In ‘Delikado,’ we show the inspirational battles of three land defenders trying to stop an island paradise in the Philippines from being plundered. I can’t imagine better partners and platforms than ‘POV’ and PBS to bring the incredible stories of ‘Delikado’s’ subjects – Bobby, Tata and Nieves – into homes across America.”
“These activists illustrate, in no uncertain terms, the stakes of the battle for our environmental resources,” said Chris White, executive producer of “POV.” “I am grateful that this team of talented filmmakers are bringing these heroes to the public eye, with a clarion call for collective outrage and action.”
Festival screenings for “Delikado” will continue throughout the spring, with timing ahead of the critical Filipino 2022 general election taking place in early May. The documentary will be featured as part of the upcoming Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, CAAMfest in San Francisco, the Human Rights Watch Festival in New York, and DocEdge in New Zealand, and will make its television debut as part of “POV’s” 35th season on PBS this fall.
In collaboration with TIME Studios, exclusive “Delikado” content featuring Palawan land defender missions that didn’t make the final cut will be highlighted in TIME Magazine’s print edition and online, as well as related panel events later in the year.
“Delikado” is a Thoughtful Robot, Narravi Films, ITVS and American Documentary/”POV” co-production in association with Naked Edge Films and Felt Films. The producers are Malakunas, Magsanoc-Alikpala, Collins and Syjuco. Collins and Syjuco’s previous projects premiered on “POV,” including Emmy-nominated “Give Up Tomorrow” and “Almost Sunrise.” Executive producers include Daniel J. Chalfen and Laura Nix as well as Sally Jo Fifer for ITVS, and Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary/”POV.”
The “Delikado” deal was negotiated by White and Dilday for American Documentary/”POV” and Isaac Hager, Focus Media Law Group, for the filmmaking team.
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