EXCLUSIVE: PBS’ investigative documentary series Frontline has acquired the Sundance documentary A Thousand Cuts directed by award-winning filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz. The timely documentary takes a look at the key players in the escalating war between press and government in the Philippines and the ongoing threat against freedom of the press. PBS distribution is planning a theatrical release in August followed by a TV broadcast in November.
The news comes as the world awaits the verdict of the trial of CEO/Founder of the Philippine news site Rappler Maria Ressa, who has been charged with a cyber libel case, has been vocal about holding Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte accountable for the government’s much-criticized violent war on drugs. A Thousand Cuts examines social media disinformation campaigns and the crackdown on the news media in the Philippines by Duterte – who has made Ressa one of his top targets.
Ressa was part of a group of journalists honored by Time magazine as Person of the Year in 2018 and since leading the charge against Duterte, he has barred Rappler reporters from the presidential palace and revoked Rappler’s license.
“I can’t be more thrilled to be working with Frontline to launch this film into the world,” said Diaz. “A Thousand Cuts comes at a time when journalists are being targeted for doing their jobs and independent media is at risk globally. It’s both a timely and timeless story of abuse of power and people who refuse to be cowed into silence. With its unparalleled work in investigative journalism and its fervor for rolling out timely cinematic documentaries, Frontline is the perfect home for this film.”
Ressa is set to lead a conversation online focusing on reporting, truth, and democracy this June 13 at 8am ET. Moderated by Dr. Julie Posetti, Global Director of Research, International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the panel will include a conversation with Ressa, Diaz and Frontline’s Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. The full film will be available in a special online broadcast only for those in the Philippines for 24 hours leading up to the verdict.
The deal was negotiated by Amy Letourneau of PBS Distribution, Jim Bracciale of Frontline PBS and Josh Braun and Matt Burke of Submarine and CAA on behalf of Concordia Studio and the filmmakers.
Watch two clips from the documentary below. The first is a look at Ressa being arrested and the second features Duterte confronting Rappler reporter Pia Ranada during a press conference.