Ramona S. Diaz

USA, Philippines, 2020 / 110 min / English OV / Documentary

Ciné-ONU, in collaboration with Time for Equality
Followed by discussion with Ines Kurschat (journalist, d’Lëtzebuerger Land) and Rosa Brignone (Founder and President of Time For Equality)

A look at how the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte uses social media to spread disinformation.

Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fuelled by social media disinformation campaigns more starkly evident than in the Philippines. In 2016, outsider candidate Rodrigo Duterte upsets the country’s political establishment by winning the presidency. Within hours of taking office, he starts a bloody war on drugs. However, local journalists reveal that instead of going against the people behind the drug trafficking business, the government is targeting drug addicts in poor neighbourhoods. In an attempt to discredit the free press and suppress independent journalism, Duterte unleashes a barrage of disinformation that goes viral on social media. In the days and months that follow, Maria Ressa, the head of the country’s top online news site places the tools of the free press – and her own freedom – on the line in the defence of truth and democracy.

Filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz follows key actors on both sides of an increasingly dangerous war between the government and journalists who, despite the intimidation, continue to publish articles denouncing this authoritarian regime. Her documentary chronicles an ongoing and merciless struggle for truth and human integrity that extends beyond the Philippines.


Ciné-ONU / United Nations Cinema is one of UNRIC Brussels’ flagship outreach activities on UN and global issues.

Ciné-ONU consists of film screenings and debates by film makers and/or experts in the field on UN issues and is organised on a bi-monthly basis in cooperation with other UN agencies, partners such as the European Commission, embassies, NGOs and government offices.

Ciné-ONU events are free of charge and are now widely anticipated in Brussels, Lisbon, Cologne, Luxembourg, Madrid, London, Rome, Helsinki, Stockholm, Geneva and Vienna and between 2007 and 2019, reached over 100,000 people from NGOs, academia, European institutions, the media, business, government and the general public in more than 200 events throughout Europe.

For more information on Ciné-ONU and to see previous films we have screened, please go to:  and


Time for Equality

Time for Equality is a non-profit association based in Luxembourg since 2014. Their mission is to contribute to a fair and inclusive society built on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, equity and justice. Time for Equality undertakes several initiatives to raise awareness and lobby on current social issues of urgency both within and across borders. They believe in the power of the arts and human stories to inspire civil society to take responsibility. True to their motto “Learn, Share, Act”, their initiatives not only sensitise the public but also motivate them to answer the question “What can I do?” They promote projects, campaigns, and actions through which each one of us can be part of the solution. For more information visit their website which has been recognised in the Top 50 Gender Equality Blogs and Websites.


Sun 14/03 14:00 Ciné Utopia EN OV Public
Sun 14/03 16:00 EN OV Public

“Ramona S. Diaz’s pacy, engrossing, galvanizing film feel more like a political thriller than an off-the-cuff investigation into embattled journalism in the Philippines […] you come out more profoundly aware than ever of the gathering darkness of our current geopolitical moment, and more fervently grateful that there are torchbearers like Maria Ressa to lead us to the light. […] For a category of filmmaking where the craft is often utilitarian at best, the footage is unusually well-shot by DPs Gabriel Goodenough and Jeffrey Johnson. Under Sam Lipman’s lightly intriguing, noodling score, nighttime cityscapes give Manila the seedy buzz of a dystopian sci-fi, and even the talking-head interviews have a certain nervy, noirish sheen. Diaz assembles her wealth of material cleverly, skipping between Ressa and dela Rosa; between eye-opening interviews with Rappler journalists and archive footage of Duterte individually targeting rising Rappler star Pia Ranada; between a female opposition politician standing for election and Duterte’s chief women lieutenants” Jessica Kiang, Variety, 07/02/2020

“The film is an essential character-driven document of a moment in the history of a country facing some challenges that are disturbingly familiar and others, thank goodness, that Americans will find very foreign.” John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter, 06/02/2020

“Refreshingly, the film is not simply a profile of Ressa, who founded the news site Rappler and has fearlessly chronicled the abuses of Duterte’s presidency and the violence it has encouraged against purported drug dealers and addicts, but a kaleidoscopic dissection of how information courses through the country. It illustrates social media’s capacity to deceive and to entrench political power.” Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times, 10/08/2020

“Refreshingly, the film is not simply a profile of Ressa, who has fearlessly chronicled the abuses of Duterte’s presidency […] but a kaleidoscopic dissection of how information courses through the country. It illustrates social media’s capacity to deceive and to entrench political power.” Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times, 10/08/2020

  • DocEdge Award, Best International Feature, Documentary Edge Festival, 2020 (New Zealand)
  • David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking, Montclair Film Festival, 2020 (USA)
Cast & Credits
Maria Ressa, Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, Pia Ranada, Mocha Uchon, Amal Clooney, Rodrigo Duterte
Ramona S. Diaz
Gabriel Goodenough, Jeffrey Johnson
Dusty Albertz, Jim Choi
Sam Lipman
CineDiaz, Concordia Studio

Ramona S. Diaz is an award-winning Asian American filmmaker and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences whose films have screened at Sundance, the Berlinale, Tribeca, the Viennale, IDFA, and many other top-tier film festivals. In 2016, she was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. All of Ramona's feature-length films have been broadcast on PBS. Her forth feature, Motherland, won an award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and had its international premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary and a Peabody Award. For the past four years, Ramona, who holds an MA from Stanford University, has been a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, an initiative bringing American films to audiences worldwide. She has conducted masterclasses and production workshops all over the world. A Thousand Cuts (2020) is her fifth film.

  • 2020 – A Thousand Cuts (documentary)
  • 2017 – Motherland (documentary)
  • 2012 – Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey (documentary)
  • 2004 – Imelda (documentary)
  • 1996 – Spirits Rising (documentary short)