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PRIVATE WARS

Philippines, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Regional)

Director: Nick Deocampo

In this intensely personal documentary, film­maker Nick Deocampo traces the tumultuous public history of the Philippines through its dev­astating effect on the private history of his own life and that of his family. Deocampo returns home to begin a search for his alcoholic father, who walked out on the family after years of men­tal anguish. This came as a direct result of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941 and the subsequent war between the US and Japan there, during which time his own father (Deocampo's grandfather) was beheaded. As he fol­lows the trail of his missing father, the filmmaker recalls the abuse and neglect he suffered at his hands as a child, which led to his own mental breakdown as a teenager.

Linking his own personal suffering and that of his family with the suffering of the Philippine peo­ple throughout the country's history of multiple invasions and colonisations by foreign powers, Deocampo relates the difficult struggle to recon­cile with, and gain independence from, repressive patriarchal influences. The film mixes reconstruc­tions of remembered moments of terror from his family's past with home-movie and archival footage in a manner that further underlines the enmeshing of public and private histories.

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