Berlinale Forum 2011 – Halaw | Ways of the Sea


Halaw | Ways of the Sea
Director: Sheron Dayoc
Philippines 2010
Tagalog, Sama, Tausug, Cebuano
Cast: Romeo John Arcilla, Maria Isabel Lopez, Arnalyn Ismael

The film opens with a call from the Malaysian Border patrol – “Turn around or we will fire on you.” Running through forest, avoiding gunfire. Carrying all that you have, hoping your baby stops crying.

In his directorial debut, Sheron Dayoc researched this tale of human trafficking as a documentary, and realized it as a feature film. The story of illegal migration from Mindanao, the southernmost island group in the Philippines, to Malaysia is little known even in Manila.

The plot is simple and proven, from Canterbury Tales to John Ford’s Stagecoach to Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat. Strangers brought together for a journey. Human trafficker Hernand rounds up his candidates for the trip to Malaysia. A beautiful, time-worn prostitute who has already made the crossing numerous times. Two sisters who are looking for their mother, who has disappeared without a trace in Malaysia. A little girl and her older brother, who speak a different language than the others.

It’s what you do with the material. Unforgettable.

Read the Forum essay.