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Inspired by true events, "Engkwentro" tells the story of Richard and Raymond, two teenage brothers on opposite sides of a gang war. Richard is the leader of his gang, "Bagong Buwan" ("New Moon") while Raymond is just being inducted into "Batang Dilim" ("Children of the Night"), a rival gang led by charming solvent boy, Tomas. Complications arise at a deadly midnight "engkwentro" (clash), when Tomas gives Raymond the task of killing his older brother.
All this happens while the City Death Squad lurks the streets. This real-life vigilante group is allegedly backed by the omnipresent Mayor Danilo Dularte Suarez, and is responsible for many unsolved murders of teen gangsters. Today, they are hunting down Richard. Will they take the younger brother, too?
In the last decade, over 814 people have been killed by "death squads" allegedly sponsored by local governments in the Philippines. Many of the victims are minors -- supposed gang members, petty criminals, drug dealers, and street children. The Philippine government denies the existence of these vigilantes, and given the continuing inadequacy of our justice system, many Filipinos seem to accept the need for such brutality in approaching the nation's crime problem. The issue is rarely talked about in the Philippines. With "Engkwentro," we want to raise it on an international stage.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Pepe Diokno is a writer-producer-director from the Philippines, born in Manila on August 13, 1987. "Engkwentro" is his first feature-length film. It is inspired by a year of Pepe's research, visiting minors in jails around the Philippines for a documentary in 2007.
Pepe is an undergraduate at the University of the Philippines Film Institute. His next project is a feature-length narrative about children warriors within the Islamic insurgency in southern Philippines.