Panoorin ang “Tumbang Preso” kung gusto mo ng mga kwento ng triumph of the human spirit. Pero hindi ito ang klase ng pelikula na masarap panoorin. Mabigat ang subject ng movie: human trafficking. Higit sa lahat, base ito sa totoong kwento. Nakakagulat na nangyayari pa ang ganito sa ating lipunan sa panahon ngayon at ito ang gustong ipaalam ng pelikula.
SYNOPSIS: Carlo is a victim of human trafficking. He and his younger cousin Jea were recruited from the province to work and get a chance to study in the metro. However, they were instead put in a small sardine-canning factory where they are enslaved and forced to work in the worst working conditions imaginable. Carlo plots with her cousin to escape.
GENRE: Drama, Suspense, Advocacy
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Kip Oebanda
CAST: Kokoy de Santos | Kean Cipriano | Teri Malvar | Ronnie Lazaro | Dominic Roco | Kerbie Zamora | Star Orjaliza | Ron Cieno | Jaclyn Jose | Shamaine Buencamino
‘Tumbang Preso’ opens with a bright colorful landscape. We see a boy running away. In the distance, he turns to the camera and beckons the audience to follow him. This is immediately followed by a shot of the same boy in a dark, cramped space. This scene sets the tone for the whole movie, so much so that one forgets the good feeling the opening shot brought since clearly, it was just fantasy.
We learn that the boy, Carlo (newcomer Cocoy de Santos), is a slave worker for a sardine-canning factory. In the wee hours of the morning, the owner (Star Orjaliza) and her cohorts (Ronnie Lazaro, Kean Cipriano) wake up the workers to start a long day. Under the scrutiny of the slavers, the children put sardines into cans—their small hands perfect for fitting the small fishes into the small cans—while the adults put the sauce.
We are served extended shots of this canning process. It is the worst working condition imaginable. After seeing this movie, you might not want to eat canned sardines again.
At night, the workers are led and locked in a dark, cramped room. There, they socialize and pretend to continue living. We find out that Carlo, as well as his younger cousin Jea (breakout young actress Teri Malvar), were victims of human trafficking. They were lured from the province by promises of good work and scholarship. We also learn from a worker named Don (Kerbie Zamora in a short but effective performance) that all of the other workers have the same past. Sadly, these other workers have accepted their fate and had been living this hell for years.
In the morning, the door opens and the cycle begins again. This cycle would go on and on until Carlo devises a plot to escape.
Tumbang preso is a traditional children’s game in which a player, the “it”, guards an empty can (usually of sardines), the other players try to knock down the can using their slippers. As long as the can is standing, the “it” is powerful and can tag other players. When the can is down, the “it” loses this power and the other players can run and collect their slippers. The “it” needs to immediately put the can back up so he can gain his or her power back.
In the movie, Carlo is “it”, and his can has been knocked down, having been robbed of what seemed like a bright future. He perseveres to put his can back up.
“Tumbang Preso” is Kip Oebanda’s directorial debut. The result is a movie from a textbook. There are some magical moments in cinematography in this movie. It is also full of cinematic devices that they tell you about in film class: strong opening and closing shots that are linked together, parallelism and contrast between reality and fantasy, shots that foreshadow later events, strong use of lighting to set the mood, motifs.
Sadly, however, one cannot help but think of an extended episode in one of the crime investigation or public service shows on TV. You want to root for the hero, but the movie doesn’t present a lot of reasons for you to do so.
“Tumbang Preso” has a great story to tell: human trafficking and slavery exist in our society today, and we need to stop it by working together. It’s a story that must be told to as many of us as possible. It is enlightening. On the other hand, it’s also a difficult subject to tackle. And the result is that the movie feels just like that: difficult to watch.
“Tumbang preso” ends with another strong shot of the same landscape, echoing the opening shot. We see Jae running away. In the distance, she turns turns to the camera and beckons us to follow. We see Carlo following. This is reality. Or so the films hopes. ♦