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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Explains why freedom of press is necessary and important for democracy, shows how suppression of an independent, free press weakens society and leads to propaganda.
Positive Role Models
Maria Ressa and fellow journalists exemplify how being a journalist requires courage, curiosity, perseverance, communication. The journalists stand up for truth even when threatened, ridiculed, intimidated; they're dedicated to their professions even in face of government reprisals, intimidation, lawsuits. President Duterte has a lot of populist support but is an authoritarian whose policies have been condemned around the world. When his administration is criticized in the Philippines, he tries to silence or discredit the authors using term "fake news."
Violence & Scariness
Images (photos and video footage) of dead people on the streets; discussions of what it's like to see so many dead, to hear relatives wailing in sorrow, to witness state-sponsored, extra-judicial murder. Various journalists cry while recounting their stories covering Duterte's so-called war on drugs, which has left thousands dead. Overt threats from government officials: President Duterte literally says in speeches: "You do drugs, and I'm going to kill you" or "Do not do drugs, because I will kill you." A general-turned-senator tells imprisoned men "Keep on using, and I have my own way to stop you. I can make you stop." Social media messages encourage rape, torture, murder of journalists.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Duterte makes suggestive comments in speeches about his "manhood" being erect or limp, depending on situation/circumstance. A social media influencer who's also a dancer wears revealing clothes and dances suggestively.
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Strong language spoken (including by the president) or written in social media posts includes "f--k," "f--ker," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "bulls--t," "son of a bitch," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Discussion of drug use, particularly meth.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Thousand Cuts is a documentary about how the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has waged a war of disinformation and lawsuits against media outlets that are critical of his administration. Directed by Filipino American filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz, the documentary explores, via interviews and archival footage, how quickly and easily Duterte convinced his followers that the media is fake, unpatriotic, and actively trying to destroy him -- and, by extension, the Philippines. The language is occasionally strong in English, subtitled Tagalog, and social media posts, including "f--k," "bitch," "s--t," etc. Violence includes images of people murdered in the streets, as well as footage of the president and his followers threatening to kill drug users and violently attack prominent members of the press corps. Through it all, the featured journalists, led by Maria Ressa, exemplify how being a journalist requires courage, curiosity, perseverance, and communication. And the movie ultimately shows how the suppression of an independent, free press weakens society and leads to propaganda. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This powerful, educational documentary exposes the challenges of being a journalist in an increasingly anti-press democracy in which leadership labels the entire media industry fake. What happens in the Philippines matters to the rest of the world, Ressa says in one interview. What Duterte is doing -- calling out the media; engaging paid trolls; pressuring his legal branch to investigate, arrest, and sue journalists; encouraging and retweeting people who ridicule and even threaten prominent journalists -- is more relevant than ever, and definitely not just in the global South or developing countries' democracies. There's a slippery slope, Ressa and the Rappler journalists explain, between suppressing the media and propagandist behavior.
Director Ramona S. Diaz does a fine job of interviewing the journalists involved and also pro-Duterte officials, like influencer-turned-government secretary Mocha Uson and General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, who runs for office after leading a campaign to kill drug addicts on Duterte's behalf. Despite being on the authoritarian president's side, both are humanized, with their own reasons for being pro-regime. Uson tearfully explains a tragedy in her background that makes her pro-government. Meanwhile, Dela Rosa is a candidate who says he would happily kill for his president, but he's also shown singing karaoke at a rally, playing and dancing with his followers -- even kidding around with criminals to whom he says he's giving a final chance to stop using drugs (the "or else" being that he'll have them executed in the streets). This isn't a particularly easy documentary to watch, but it's necessary, particularly when there are obvious parallels between the Philippines and the United States.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.