Social media has become the most powerful tool in disseminating information nowadays. In just a few clicks, you could become anyone’s prey, no matter how sensitive or personal the topic is. The term ‘trending’ keeps circulating online, too; it simply means that someone became famous because of one of two things: they either did a heroic act or committed a crime in the eyes and perception of the netizens.
We are so hooked on social media and so easy to judge someone and react on a certain issue based on a single post without knowing the real story behind it. We live in a generation where we religiously scroll through our feeds, post different types of content, and like and share numerous posts. However, do we still take time to think of the repercussions before we post something on the Internet?
A Cinemalaya film directed and written by Arden Rod Condez, John Denver Trending delivers a very important message. It tackles the effects of cyberbullying, the rapid growth of fake news, the toxicity of social media, the importance of addressing mental health, and the flawed justice system of our country.
The story revolves around John Denver Cabungcal, a Grade 8 student falsely accused of stealing an iPad. The continuous allegations provoked him to assault his bully of a classmate. What John Denver didn’t know was that someone actually recorded the incident and posted it on social media, making him a trending topic around the campus and in the village.
Director Condez excellently and realistically crafted this masterpiece. The film was shot in his hometown in Pandan, Antique and he even used Kinaray-a, the native language of Antiquenos. What makes this film unique is the stellar cast played by locals of the province—Director Condez’s relatives, friends, and neighbors—who executed their roles magnificently despite not having a lot of knowledge and practice in the art of acting.
Meryll Soriano is the only familiar face you’ll see in the film. She plays John Denver’s mother, and her role as an independent woman and loving mother adds more impact to the viewers’ emotions. John Denver Cabungcal is portrayed by a newcomer in the film industry, Jansen Magpusao, who is also a local of Antique. He perfectly delivers his role. He doesn’t need to utter heavy lines in order to express his emotions because the sorrow in his eyes and visible confusion on his face say it all. It only proves that a young boy from a province who only went through a short acting workshop can be compared to other well-known actors. This film will leave you devastated and guilty. It is definitely a must-watch!
It is not surprising why John Denver Trending dominated this year’s Cinemalaya, receiving 6 awards: Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Music Score, NETPAC Award, and Best Actor for Jansen Magpusao. John Denver Trending is a timely and relevant film that reflects on today’s reality where social media can easily humiliate people and ruin their reputation.
The film also serves as a wake-up call for everyone, especially those who have the power and ability to use social media, to be more careful and aware of all of their actions online. It is important to fact-check, listen to the other side of the story, and educate other people nicely. It would be better to settle issues personally instead of posting it on social media because it can affect someone’s mental disposition and lead to something worse. Let us all think before we click.