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Original title: Sa Palad ng Dantaong Kulang

with English subtitles


Four families live in the seams of Manila's busiest international port. They are migrants from the Philippine countryside who have ended up among the bottom quarter of Manila's population. In the hours of their ordinary days, they hear and see, the wealth of different nations packed as cargo, passing them by, leaving and entering Manila's shores.

Anne gives birth to her third child. Akira learns reading and writing while foraging for scrap metal and coal. Eddie entertains himself to sleep with a broken TV before another nightshift work as a stevedore in the port. Emelita prays over the funeral of her husband. Around them and their days, the port is slowly expanding. Anne’s midwife, Paning, brings the news.

In the Claws of a Century Wanting is a filmic symphony depicting the increasing everyday violence in the aspiration for a city fit for globalization. It captures a global process from the perspective of everyday life. In the everyday of four small homes, the film traces imprints of the larger world.

Awards & Festivals:

Best Documentary, Human Rights Section | Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Best Documentary, Feature-length | Film Festival Dokumenter Jogjakarta (Indonesia)

Best Documentary | 42nd Gawad Urian (Philippines)

Best Picture & Best Cinematography | 29th Young Critics Circle Awards (Philippines)

Best Documentary & Best Director | Mindanao Film Festival (Philippines)

International Program | DokLeipzig (Germany)

Wide Angle Competition | Busan International Film Festival (South Korea)

Asian Vision | Singapore International Film Festival (Singapore)

Official Selection | Hong Kong International Film Festival (Hong Kong)

Official Selection | Doxa International Documentary Festival (Canada)

Asian Vision | Taiwan International Documentary Festival (Taiwan)

International Competition | Jean Rouch International Film Festival (France)

Panorama | Africa International Film Festival (Nigeria)

Asian Competition | Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival (Indonesia)

International Competition | Tertio Millenio Film Festival (Italy)

SAC ASEAN International Film Festival (Thailand)

Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (Malaysia)

Moving Borders, Films in the Center | Cinemarehiyon Film Festival (Philippines)

Main Competition | Maginhawa Film Festival (Philippines)

Cinemaralita Film Festival (Philippines)

Active Vista Film Festival (Philippines)

Exhibition | Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (South Korea)

Director's Note:

The film is set in the historical port district of Tondo, Manila. The district is the most densely populated in the country, making up a quarter of the capital city's population. In the gaps and seams of the country’s main international port, migrants from the Philippine countryside make do with makeshift housing and precarious living conditions.

I was, too, a newcomer to the city and had easily sensed Tondo’s contradictions, which, though hard to miss, also takes a while to comprehend. What had been immediately perplexing to me was how this great Tondo of our history books had turned into a settlement for the country's poorest. Tondo, as taught to us, is the birthplace of both the liberation movement and its founding father, who paved the conditions for the establishment of the Philippine republic.

Increasingly moved by this irony, despite having just finished a degree in filmmaking, I found myself staying in the community for two years, one, as a social worker, but also as a wanderer trying to disentangle the ironies of a nation that is now ours but also has always been hardly so.

In the good years of my youth, I was living, discussing and solving community problems with mothers, workers, and young people and day by day arriving at an understanding of the depths of our subjection to multiple layers of colonialism that have far outlived their conclusions. I had almost forgotten my urge to make films.

Soon, pushed by the increasing pressure of global trade, the premiere international port surrounding Tondo was signed for privatization and along with it was a blueprint for the port’s expansion. Thousands were to be displaced in the process. Meanwhile, the traffic of container vans from China, Europe and the US in the port's roads became heavier and heavier.

Change of this scale is rarely abrupt or arbitrary. There is a system to it – perhaps the same system that is displayed in the certainty of movement of every wheel and crane of this vast port industry and in the complex of industries that our current world is built on. Hence, while irony and nostalgia are the immediate feelings for me, they are not the only point. The point is a persistent cross-sectioning, even to painful detail, of the aspects of this situation that bears imprints of a colonial past and patterns to a bleak future.

In the Claws of a Century Wanting is a montage of observations that confront slices of people’s lives and slices of an industrial expansion. The characters are many but, in effect, two – the place of industry and the people surrounded and permeated by it. And while the film refers to a momentous reality, its point of view is up close, lingering in the time of waiting, in the development, in the lethargy of survival, aware and at the same time oblivious of what awaits.

How does life go on in the exhaust pipes of globalization? How do people fight for daily subsistence as a historical force more supreme is taking place? If in the beginning, I was drawn by Tondo's past, now I'm drawn by its future – and a question of what it represents for me, for us, and for the rest of what is commonly called the “developing world” in the face an established order of supremacy that is as certain as it is volatile.

The Director

Jewel Maranan is an independent documentary filmmaker and producer. Her deep interest is in the ways by which history inches through ordinary life. The films she makes and produces are crafted in this pursuit.

Jewel is the founder of Cinema Is Incomplete, an alternative film production and distribution company based in the Philippines. She is also a conspirator in Dokyupeeps, a loose network of Filipino documentary filmmakers, and an active participant in efforts to help develop Southeast Asian documentary through the SEA DocNet, a network of documentary professionals in Southeast Asia. She graduated from the University of the Philippines Film Institute and later took her master’s degree in documentary cinema in the traveling school of DocNomads in Lisbon, Budapest, and Brussels. She is also an alumni of the Berlinale Talents DocStation and Doha Film Institute’s Qumra.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    120 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
  • Director
    Jewel Maranan
  • Screenwriter
    Jewel Maranan
  • Producer
    Jewel Maranan
  • Co-Producer
    Ingmar Trost
  • Filmmaker
    Jewel Maranan
  • Cinematographer
    Jewel Maranan
  • Editor
    Lawrence S. Ang & Jewel Maranan
  • Sound Design
    Mikael Andres Quizon