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Somewhere in Cannes, a Filipino short film about child abuse is schooling viewers

[Trigger warning: This film tackles child abuse.] 

The best stories are those that don’t skirt around heavy issues. Like the hard-hitting children’s books we recommend, a Filipino short film is currently gaining global attention for the harsh reality it portrays.

Filipino animated short film “Ang Lihim ni Lea” has recently bagged nine international awards, including Best Original Story and Grand Jury Award for Animation at the New York International Film Awards 2020. Directed by Rico Guttierez and based on the 2007 children’s book by Augie Rivera, this film tackles child abuse and the experiences of victims. It’s safe to say that this local narrative has been schooling tons of viewers at this point—as it should. 

Filled with warm tones amid a dreamlike setting, “Ang Lihim ni Lea” follows the young title character who moves into a new condominium unit with her father. One day, she starts believing that she has the power to walk through walls and closed doors. 

However, her “power” doesn’t seem to work at school. Lea’s teacher notices this and quickly probes the case, eventually discovering that this is Lea’s coping mechanism to survive the trauma brought about by her father’s sexual molestation. 

Quarantine has alarmed  many children’s advocates and organizations, as kids are at a heightened risk of abuse, like online sex trafficking and exploitation. We can  only hope that “Ang Lihim ni Lea” will not only invoke empathy for victims of such crimes but also push the viewers to take action against this injustice.

Watch the trailer here:

Read more:
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The (possible) future of Filipino lit: AI-made children’s book covers
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Still from “Ang Lihim ni Lea”

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Jelou Galang
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