The sixth feature in two years by Filipino helmer Brillante Mendoza is a take-no-prisoners verite plunge into a Manila slum. Furiously filmed on mobile digicam and with perfs that make the line between drama and documentary seem invisible, “Slingshot” supplies no end of shock, but an underdeveloped emotional core keeps the viewer at arm’s length. A companion-piece to Jim Libiran’s Pusan fest entry “Tribe,” Mendoza’s chronicle of poverty and desperation will continue its already extensive fest travels and score ancillary sales in selected territories. Local release is yet to be confirmed.
Location is the central district of Quiapo, where thousands of people are cramped into wretched quarters. Amid fervid religious ceremonies and local elections in which votes are sold to the richest candidates, pic follows a large collection of characters involved in petty crime and drugs. Par for the course in the carnival of horrors is young father Rex (Kristofer King) casually taking his infant into a crackhouse. Never stopping long enough to get inside anyone’s head, pic eventually numbs out with a relentless accumulation of misery. Sepia-toned lensing is rough and effective; sound design is first-rate.