The Pornography of Poverty in Serbis and Tribu

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Most Filipino independent films can be considered pornographic not because these films are cheap and of low quality but rather because these films can also be understood as psycho-sexual and political discourses in which the representation of Filipinos becomes problematic in relation to their perceived and preferred audience in international film festivals, and in so far as how the First World constructs and chooses to view the Third World, and where such geopolitics informs and forms our viewing culture. This paper deals with what may be regarded as the pornography of poverty in the Filipino independent films, Serbis and Tribu, both of which have been hailed in many international film festivals as brilliant works. The fact that these films are being exhibited and marketed abroad prompts this inquiry. The paper attempts to answer how and in what way these international festivals construct the Filipinos; how producers and/or writers of the two films imagined the Filipinos and, afterwards, marketed that image abroad. It also purports to answer how and in what way the politics of visibility of Filipinos can be understood as a continuing logic of neocolonial and global interests.