Basurero– a poetic, neo-realist, short film plunging viewers into the complex world of a Filipino fisherman who finds himself embroiled in a dangerous undertaking- has made its world premiere at the 24th annual Busan International Film Festival, Oct. 3-12 in South Korea, in competition in the Wide Angle category.

Starring Filipino film and television leading man Jericho “Echo” Rosales (Alagwa, Baler, Siargao) as “Bong,” the film marks the directorial debut of Filipina-American filmmaker Eileen Cabiling, who also penned the original short screenplay. Los Angeles-based Cabiling is a Screenwriting Fellow graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute who has worked as a writer for Disney and as an independent story development producer. Born to immigrant Filipino parents in the U.S., Cabiling is drawn to the subject matter by a desire to explore the psychology of her ancestral home. Currently, Cabiling is set to make her feature-length directorial debut with her original screenplay, Manhid, starring and produced by Rosales.

In Basurero . . . With few fish left in the sea, Bong, an urban Manila fisherman, struggles to survive, unable to afford his sick, young daughter’s medication. Reluctantly, he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous undertaking, caught in the net of the country’s unrestrained and violent war on drugs. With nowhere to turn, he becomes a basurero (garbage man), working in the anonymity of night to dump the bodies of drug dealers and users killed by authorities, that they call “trash.” Wracked with guilt and fear, Bong feverishly seeks a way out.

A fictional expose inspired by actual events–with human rights groups putting the death toll as high as 27,000 since 2016–and a story anonymously related to Al Jazeera by Filipino fishermen, who told of widespread human rights abuses among the nation’s most vulnerable in an unprecedented and unchecked crackdown, with officials “playing both sides of the drugs war.” Rather than serving audiences a high-octane expose of the violence, Cabiling renders a more nuanced portrait, taking viewers inside the psychology of a man trapped by impossible circumstances. 

Basurero is in collaboration with Globe Studios with Quark Henares and Jan Pineda as attached Executive Producers.  Globe Studios will be premiering Basurero in Manila this fall.

Directed and written by Eileen Cabiling, Director of Photography is Jae-Hyuk Lee (Lighting Director, Okja, Black Panther Korean unit). Produced by Darlene Catly Malimas, Philippines (Aparisyon, Lingua Franca), Sascha Brown Rice, U.S. (California State of MindMango Kiss), Jose C. Mangual (How the Garcia Girls Spent their Summer) and Eva Husson (Girls of the SunBang Gang). 

Says Cabiling, “What attracts me most to Bong’s story is not just the inhumane politics and the vilification and killings of drug users, sellers and the poor in the Philippines, but also how this character’s circumstances are a window into the complex Filipino psyche’s search for value in the world.”  

BIFF Festival Screenings of Basurero

Oct. 7 @ 4 p.m. — MEGABOX Jangsan Haeundae 5 Screening/Q&A

Oct. 8 @ 7 p.m. — CGV Centum City 3 Screening/Q&A

Oct. 10 @ 4 p.m. — MEGABOX Jangsan Haeundae 5 Screening/Q&A

17 Minutes / Tagalog (English Subtitles)

Lucena Films and DCM Autodidact Films production in association with Fire of Life FilmsEclipse ProductionJen Lighting CompanyBullet ManilaGlobe StudiosContagious Inc., G-Ward ProductionWapak Sound and Monoxide Works.

Basurero was shot in the urban fishing port and village of Cavite City and in Metro Manila.