Delikado (Sydney Film Festival) – Film Review

Directed by Karl Malakunas, Delikado is a documentary film that tells the story of a group of land protectors that attempt to protect their local rainforest from being destroyed.

Set in the island of Palawan in the Philippines, local lawyer, Bobby Chan leads a group of land protectors who endeavour to confiscate chainsaws from illegal loggers to stop them from cutting down trees in their rainforest. While this is happening, Mayor Nieves Rosento is up for re-election and is being slandered by her opposition, which is possibly part of a corrupted campaign.

The film includes multiple methods to tell its story such as interview footage with the land protectors with most of the focus being on Bobby Chan, which makes sense as he is the leader of the group. But he is also very well spoken and that makes him very enjoyable to listen to, plus he has a lot of interesting things to say. The film also uses a lot of footage of the land protectors looking out for the loggers. This footage has a very gritty look to it, which might not be as visually appealing as a lot of other films but it certainly suites the mood of this type of film.

The camera tends to shake from time to time, and leaves and bushes often get in the way of the view. So, it almost makes you feel like you are in the rainforest as well. The film also does show footage of the locals going about their day-to-day business, such as going to church and cooking food for the community. One thing that I thought was interesting was that they had collected all the confiscated chainsaws and stacked them on top of each other in the street to make them reminiscent of a piece of street art, which looked amazing and it also comes across as a warning to the loggers that their chainsaws could become another addition to the pile.

In Delikado there are some genuinely scary moments, for example, there is a scene where one of the land protectors is in the rainforest to stop one of the loggers, and next minute you hear gunshots. You don’t see anything, but it turns out that he was assassinated. There is another moment where Bobby Chan is experiencing death threats and must have protection, which makes for various tense moments in the film. The whole film isn’t terrifying though. There is a scene where one of the land protectors catches one of the loggers and he calmly interrogates him. Because the logger is upset and being cooperative, the protector goes easy on him, showing how’s kind and good natured that they can be.

Delikado is a powerful and inspiring documentary film that touches on corruption, murder, politics, and a group of noble people that go out of their way to save their countries rainforest from being completely ruined.

Delikado will be showing as part of the 2022 Sydney Film Festival on the 9th and 11th of June 2022.

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