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Watch a Documentary on Nobel Peace Prize Winner Maria Ressa

Orignally published on 2021-12-08 21:05:43 by

Before the October 2021 announcement that she would receive the Nobel Peace Prize, veteran Philippine journalist Maria Ressa was the subject of A Thousand Cuts, a feature-length documentary directed by Ramona S. Diaz that made its FRONTLINE premiere in January 2021.

Ressa and her staff at the independent news site Rappler drew the attention of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte when, in the months after his 2016 election, they investigated a slew of killings believed to be connected to Duterte’s bloody war on suspected drug dealers and users.

Ressa, who also published a series of stories examining the rapid-fire spread of pro-Duterte disinformation, soon became the focus of online threats, as well as a prime target in Duterte’s crackdown on the news media. The Philippine president has said journalists “are not exempted from assassination.”

“What we’re seeing is death by a thousand cuts of our democracy,” Ressa said in the documentary, which follows her and Rappler‘s efforts to uphold press freedom in the Philippines. “When you have enough of these cuts, you are so weakened that you will die.” But Ressa vowed she and Rappler would carry on in the face of online harassment and numerous court actions: “We will not duck; we will not hide. We will hold the line.”

Along with the Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, Ressa is scheduled to receive the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, 2021, at a ceremony that will feature lectures from both recipients. Ressa and Muratov were chosen “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace,” according to the Nobel announcement.

The government of the Philippines tried to prevent Ressa from attending the Nobel ceremony, according to The New York Times and Rappler, but an appeals court granted permission.

For a closer look at Ressa’s story and her work in the Philippines, stream A Thousand Cuts in FRONTLINE’s online collection of streaming documentaries, in the PBS Video App, on FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel and embedded above. After Philippine distributors and TV broadcasters opted not to license the film, FRONTLINE secured full streaming rights in the country so A Thousand Cuts would be available to the Philippine public via FRONTLINE’s platforms.

The documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020 and had its U.S. broadcast premiere with FRONTLINE in January 2021, offers a powerful look at the implications for democracy when press freedom is threatened and disinformation flourishes on social media.

Since the documentary’s release, Rappler has continued reporting on President Duterte’s drug war, and Ressa remains determined to press on.

“Fear is real, of course, but like a muscle, you get used to it,” Ressa said in a Nov. 29 conversation with Raney Aronson-Rath, FRONTLINE’s executive producer, and Kathy Pham, a senior fellow and adjunct lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, held at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

“It’s like a new normal, in a weird way. You conquer it.”

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE

Orignally published on 2021-12-08 21:05:43 by

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