Ramona S. Díaz’s 2020 film, A Thousand Cuts, is one of those documentaries that is necessary to watch, especially considering the world we are all currently inhabiting. Díaz utilises the reality of what occurred in the Philippines as Rodrigo Duterte came to power to show the catastrophic effects of his political control over Filipino society, singling out Maria Ressa and her fearless reporting to not only draw the threads of this documentary’s narrative together, but to give what has happened in the Philippines a human face and personality.

While a significant portion of this documentary discusses Facebook algorithms and the possibility of real violence against journalists through displaying vile Facebook comments and messages being sent to Ressa and Rappler employees, the documentary also does not shy away from showing real violence. From even the fourteen minute mark of the film, Díaz shows dead bodies lying prone on the ground, putting faces and stories on the drug war in the Philippines. While in another documentary, revealing a dead body may seem excessive, considering the subject matter of this documentary, it is requisite. What showing a dead body on the ground does here is highlight the thesis of this documentary: to tell its audience that massive change can happen in little chips away at society, in ways that one may not notice until it is too late. Seeing a dead body in an alley shows that these small issues have real life consequences; that even failures to regulate information sharing websites such as Facebook can lead to monstrous people obtaining a Cult of Personality that has one of the farthest reaches imaginable, and society can be shaped by the loudest, most braggadocios, and crass, all of which obtain the most clicks and views on the internet.

What A Thousand Cuts shows the world is that what happened in the Philippines was not an isolated incident. As Ressa explains in the documentary, it can happen anywhere, and it has already happened in many countries. As a war is waged against journalists and misogyny, racism, and violence is not only unregulated, but encouraged by echo chambers on the internet, little is done and even the strongest of crusaders in this frightening new world are imprisoned for no reason other than that they are fighting against this new, unscrupulous system. A Thousand Cuts beseeches its audience to realise that world-changing events are happening around them and that they begin in the smallest and most insidious ways; and what is most frightening, we realise by the end of this documentary, is that these changes have already happened.


Díaz, Ramona S., director. A Thousand Cuts. 2020.

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