Director: Brillante Mendoza
Year: 2007
Rating: 7.5
Country: Philippines

I have been to Manila two times in my life - once on my own out of curiosity and once for work - I am never going back. It is a hellhole. It isn't just the poverty - you see that in many places but it is the sense of hopelessness that covers everything like thick dust. It is just a sad sad place that seems to have been left behind as much of the rest of Asia has rushed ahead over the past two decades. Slingshot is a journey into the darkest corners of this hell. This is rather a remarkable film as much for how it was made as for its content. Shot right in the middle of a Manila slum with a handheld camera often on the run, it explores this world with a group of criss-crossing characters who just try to get by every day in any way they can - scrimping for money, stealing, screwing, pleading - whatever gets them to the next day when they have to start all over again.

The film begins with a night raid by the cops and a scout runs ahead through the slum warning everyone that the cops are coming - in the dark deals are going down, illicit affairs are taking place, gays are screwing furtively in the alleyways, drugs being sniffed in the small cramped living spaces - it all comes spilling out as the cops roust everyone and collect them like garbage men. The next day everything is back to normal - the cops have been paid off by the politicians for expected votes. The camera frantically follows characters for the next few days and acts as a witness to it all. Ever present in the background are campaign posters from bright-eyed smiling politicians making false promises again and again and again. With very little plot and a host of d

Written in 03/2008