Manila, Philippines is the most densely populated city in the world. On October 31, 2011 Danica May Comacho was born here. The UN symbolically named her the "seven-billionth" human to join our current world population. The Philippine population has tripled since 1965.
In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning, stating that: "continued population growth in Metro Manila will have 'damaging consequences for human health' particularly for the poor as it increases poverty, diseases and natural disasters." The WHO estimates that over 20% of Metro Manila's population is either under or near the poverty line, with 35% living in urban slums.
In the center of this complex, crowded capital lies the sprawling North Cemetery, where many past Presidents, politicians and celebrities are buried. In contrast to intense traffic and noise just outside the cemetery walls, the North Cemetery is quiet and peaceful. Here, a community of around 2,000 people live, work, and raise children participating in the unique economy that accompanies the up to 80 Catholic burials which take place here each day. Entire generations of families will live their entire lives, inside the cemetery. Residents here tell us they prefer living here to "the street", and indeed, some residents here prosper greatly in the cemetery economy, earning enough money to send their children to private school.
James and I began working in the cemetery community in 2008, and were awarded an Every Human Has Rights Media Award for a short multimedia piece we produced that introduced our audience to the community.
The following year, James was awarded the POYi Emerging vision Incentive award to continue his photography project in the North Cemetery. We are now ready to finalize production of a 30 minute documentary, with a release scheduled for Spring 2013.
As well as documenting the immediate topics, such as why the community exists, living conditions and the cemetery’s economy, we aim to reflect on current larger global issues, such as population growth, poverty, access to family planning, affordable housing and education, through the perspective of three selected residents and their families. We began filming interviews in 2008 and again in 2011. The final production trip will allow us to complete their individual stories and the larger story of the cemetery and it’s context in our world today.
Our funding request will cover the hard costs (flight, food and accommodation) for us to finish production this fall on the documentary, during a one-month trip to Manila. Any additional funds will assist in the costs of post-production and distribution of the project upon completion. We aim to promote the film through the film festival circuit, the web and other appropriate outlets, upon anticipated completion in 2013.
Our goal is to educate and engage a broad audience with these larger issues, through the eyes, lives and hopes of the resilient, hard-working and inspiring individuals and families who call the North Cemetery, home.
We deeply appreciate your consideration to help us fund this project.
Jessica and James Chance Buy Access