Cinemalaya review: ‘ John Denver Trending ‘ provides strong bullying message

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Sta. Ines Catholic High School Grade 8 student John Denver Cabungcal got into a battle with his classmate Mark, who falsely accused him of stealing his iPad while charging in the classroom.

An incriminating video of this battle and pictures of Mark’s swollen face were immediately uploaded to Facebook by another classmate, Carlos, along with an angry, inciting message.

The post quickly became local and later throughout the nation viral, making bad John Denver a hated nationwide villain. Only his mom, Marites, stood steadfastly by his side to protect his honor.

This grim tale was set in Pandan City, Antique Province. The dialog was all in Antique’s local dialect, Kinaray-a. This was only the second film I had seen, the first being “Tuos,” which was also an entry back in 2016 in Cinemalaya.

Despite what the title might suggest, this is certainly not a light movie. In “John Denver,” the dark severe feelings were persistent from beginning to end.

This film makes you feel so helpless and so furious that these cruel things were happening to a young kid. Kids should never be subject to such brutal bullying not only from fellow kids, but also from adults— and worse, adults in authority.

This film was indeed a very strong and timely declaration against intimidation in individual physically and verbally, or nearly online. It spoke about the dangerous power of social media in influencing public perception and opinion with biased or worse news, fake news, and its relentless adverse implications for the person concerned.

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