A Thousand Cuts: Maria Ressa’s Fight for Press Freedom in the Philippines


“First they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that,” says journalist Maria Ressa, quoting a solemn line from a Philippine newspaper, inspired by Martin Niemöller’s postwar poem “First They Came.” The striking quote comes during a scene from the new documentary A Thousand Cuts, out Aug. 7, which highlights attacks on press freedom and democracy in the Philippines and draws parallels with other parts of the world, Suyin Haynes writes for TIME. RTWT


“At the very beginning, when all the cases were filed, I realized that the end goal is to silence me and Rappler….It is a press freedom issue, right? These are lots of legal acrobatics to weaponize the law so that we crumble. And I refuse to crumble,” Ressa, 56, tells Variety:

The film, which premiered at Sundance and will open in virtual cinemas on Aug. 7, shows the lengths to which Rappler journalists go covering their respective beats as well as harrowing moments from Ressa’s own encounters with law enforcement, such as her 2019 arrest upon arriving at the Manila airport after a flight from San Francisco. In another scene, she casually straps on a bulletproof vest and slumps into the backseat of an SUV. The threats to her work — and life — are, seemingly, ever-present.

“In four years time, I’ve learned that the way to handle this is to keep doing our jobs and that’s part of the reason, every time I feel like I’m not doing my job, I work harder,” she says. “The more the government harasses me and Rappler and other journalists, the more I think, ‘We must be missing a story… What are we missing that they don’t want us to find?’”

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