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Manila High- Life in Company with Death

02. March - 15. April 2018

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there is three million, what is it, three million drug addicts [in the Philippines] there are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, 71 år.


A year after Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines, more than 7000 people have been killed in Tokhang, the so-called War on Drugs. The victims are the country’s poorest, and nowhere has Tokhang been more devastating than in Manila’s slums where corpses are filling up the public cemeteries.


The film Manila High - Life in Company with Death portrays the gravediggers of Pasay City Cemetery and their work constructing the “Duterte Compound”, a new government-funded grave-complex for the victims of Tokhang. The gravediggers, who live on the cemetery’s graves, are breathing the same smog of fear creeping throughout the slums: These graves could end up being their own.


Duterte has created headlines around the world with his long list of insidious public statements. The turbulence generated by the still unresolved conflict of ISIS-rebels in the Southern Philippines causes many to fear Duterte is using Tokhang as a tool to distract public attention in a period of national instability. His latest encouragement to shoot human right’s activists can be regarded as the latest step in his yearlong dictatorial metamorphosis. The international society is still showing little signs of response.     


The documentary film-project ‘Manila High – Life in Company with Death’ are produced by Anders Palm Olesen and Simone Andrea Gottschau with support from DANIDA. The film was awarded as Danida’s ‘film of the year’ 2017.


The documentary film follows a group of young caretakers in one of Manilas public cemeteries. It's where they work, it's where they live, caring for the dead. President Duterte's war on drugs has kept them busy - but the caretakers can't help asking themselves: who will be next to end up in the graves?




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