Ma’ Rosa. 2016. Philippines. Directed by Brillante Mendoza. With Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Felix Roco, Jomari Angeles, Andi Eigenmann. In Filipino; English subtitles. 110 min.
Rosa and Nestor run a small convenience store in a shantytown in Metro Manila, where they deal drugs on the side to help make ends meet. Arrested during a police raid, they face corrupt cops who attempt to extort money from them, setting off a nightmarish chain of frenzied efforts by the couple’s children to raise funds. Shot with a handheld camera in grimly lit environments, this documentary-like drama offers an unabashedly realistic portrayal of life on the edge. Ma’ Rosa was Mendoza's third film to enter competition at Cannes—following Service (2008) and Kinatay (2009)—and Jaclyn Jose nabbed the festival's Best Actress award, a first for a Southeast Asian, for her powerful performance as the resourceful matriarch. Completed shortly before the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, Ma’ Rosa is a slice of life at ground zero in the president’s controversial war on drugs.