That ever present issue in the media lately? Undocumented immigrants. Although a certain president has been making the issue a spotlight event recently - this issue far exceeds the borders of the States. No matter your views on border hopping, one thing in the media is often glazed over - the fact that every situation is different. The problem is when people try to paint every instance the same color using the same brush. Something that "Diwa" showcases right from the start, via a speech from President Trump. That very same brush is used to describe all illegal immigrants entering into the States. All illegals are criminals bringing their criminal problems into the country. Not only is this untrue, but the truth is far simpler. Not everyone is a criminal. Even a six year old could tell you that. Yet as simple a truth as that is, the legalities and complexities make it a tough subject to tackle. Instead of actually doing the hard work, some people would rather just paint everyone the same color and be done with it. That's the sad truth.
Written and directed by Aina Dumkao and Bru Muller, "Diwa" tackles the story of Diwa herself. An undocumented immigrant who is not a criminal. A woman with the best of intentions and even a little naive in nature. Maybe writing a little naive is an understatement, as shown during a flashback at the end of the film. This country is just like the movies Diwa says during a message to her family. As it turns out this was a true statement... if you're talking about a horror film.
Diwa is shown to be a hard working young woman. Hard working and anything but selfish. The money she earns goes back to her family - how selfless is that? It seems however, that her employer(s) have other ideas on what she has to do for her income. We're talking about rape ladies and gents. Cold, violent rape. It seems the world "Diwa" draws out, reminds us that residents of our own countries can be more criminal than those we worry about at the border crossing. Even more sickening is that these people use the undocumented status of their employees, as a shield for their violent crimes. And why not? What illegal is going to risk being deported - by bringing police into the fold? It's a vicious cycle... and one that is more prevalent than people realize. Clearly this cycle isn't always the case - but just as clear is the fact it does happen.
As for the film itself, "Diwa" does an amazing job letting it's viewers know just how things can be for undocumented immigrants. The ever growing hatred for people that just are... well... people. Racism and even outright hatred are shown in this short film with sleek efficiency. It's all very sad to watch - and some may outright not believe in the narrative being told. But why shouldn't they? People are people. The good and the bad. Why wouldn't a slime-ball use the fear of deportation, as a means to an end? Hatred and criminal desires are not restricted to one side of a border. "Diwa" demonstrates this just perfectly... with a horrendous end result.
And yet things are not all bad. This film also shows us some good, kind people. People who have their hands tied with red tape and rules, but truly feel for those caught in a bad situation. "Diwa" reminds us that not every person is bad - and that there is hope. Maybe not for Diwa herself in this particular film, but hope in general.
Overall, this was a great film. It looks good, sounds good, and has a story that needs to be shared. Aina Dumlao as Diwa herself shines brightly and truthfully in her role. The images throughout the film of her arrival, contrasting with those of her... departure are nothing short of stunning. In a very sad way. This is one of those short films I highly recommend - a movie that shows us a different side of a story we all know and live. Easily, "Diwa" earns every star I've humbly submitted. Four out of five.