Close Up

5 November 2017: Wake (Subic)


Wake (Subic) is the second part of Gianvito’s documentary diptych entitled For Example, the Philippines, coming after Vapor Trail (Clark). That film detailed the violence and destruction wrought in the Philippines by focusing on the environmental damage left after the closing of Clark Air Base, where toxic waste has contributed to elevated rates of birth defects and fatal diseases. As the diptych’s title explains, the Philippines serves here as but one example among many of the ruinous and corrosive impacts of American foreign policy – and unchecked militarism more generally – that Gianvito could have chosen, the proper history of which remains still largely ignored today. Gianvito’s work is a furious strike against that ignorance.” – David Pendleton

Wake (Subic)
John Gianvito
2015 | 277 min | Colour | DCP
Followed by Q&A with the director

“An epic about the wages of US colonialism and militarism, this film is at once a captivating historical essay and an impassioned work of witnessing. Gianvito focuses this time on the suffering caused by environmental military waste after the Philippines’ Subic Bay naval base was closed in 1992. As in Vapor Trail (Clark), Gianvito chronicles in depth the experiences of Filipinos contending with birth defects because of this waste. But he also amps up the history this time, uncovering a fascinating and disconcerting backlog of injustice and violence, illustrated with revealing, seldom-seen archival material.

Over the past several years, Gianvito has emerged as one of this country’s most impassioned political filmmakers, yet his passion emerges in equal parts anger, informed reason and compassion, and never as hysteria or hectoring. Here, besides recounting the shameful history and witnessing the lives of those affected, he also spends time with community activists and other locals. Above all, his intense commitment emerges cinematically: in the image, in the use of time and editing, in giving the audience information but also, crucially, time for empathy.” – Harvard Film Archive

Screening as part of John Gianvito's For Example, the Philippines diptych