Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Alpha, The Right to Kill’ to make world premiere at San Sebastian International Film Festival 2018

Brillante Mendoza’s ‘Alpha, The Right to Kill’ to make world premiere at San Sebastian International Film Festival 2018

Written by Troy Espiritu and directed by Brillante Mendoza, “Alpha, The Right to Kill” will make its world premiere in the 66th edition of San Sebastian International Film Festival, which runs September 21-29, 2018. The film stars Allen Dizon, Elijah Filamor and Baron Geisler.

Dizon plays P03 Moises Espino, a cold, ruthless and amoral non-commisioned police officer who conducts illegal activities through his informant Elijah, who is played by Filamor.

A small-time drug peddler turned police informant, Filamor’s character is a survivalist determined to earn an ample for his family. Meanwhile, Geisler plays Norman “Abel” Bautista, a syndicate leader running his crystal meth business in the metro.


Set against the backdrop of the Philippines Government’s crackdown on illegal drugs, a SWAT-led police force launches an operation to arrest Abel, one of the biggest druglords in Manilla.

Police Officer Espino and Elijah, a small-time pusher turned informant, provide the intelligence for the operation which quickly escalates into a violent and heavily-armed confrontation in the slums between the SWAT and Abel’s gang.

Before the investigators arrive at the crime scene, Espino and Elijah walk off with Abel’s backpack full of money and methamphetamine.

This gesture of survival for one and corruption for the other will soon set off a dangerous series of events, both of them risking their reputations, families and lives in the process.

Director’s Treatment

The script is the product of a compilation of found stories based on research and interviews with people involved with the drug trade in the Philippines. The challenge was how to put together so many perspectives in a cohesive point of view (POV). Of late, drug dealers in the Philippines have resorted to a novel and clean way of “shipping” drugs (in this case shabu or meth) to clients if only to avoid detection and arrests: pigeons.

In telling the story, we resort to the cinéma-vérité style of filmmaking; we go to where the action is, where the action is taking place, the people involved. There is some sort of voyeurism, in that we peek into and show how things are done beyond closed doors, (at least in the drug trade). The audience gets a ringside view of how a sting operation is planned and executed.

Nonprofessional actors are cast to achieve unrehearsed and impromptu movements and action; likewise real-life police officers and SWAT team members whose actions and movements are spontaneous during operations. Real and actual locations make up the overall production design.

Director’s Statement

At the core of the story is a police asset (a modern-day version of the “makapili,” a Filipino who readily betrayed Filipino guerillas, by pointing them out to Japanese authorities during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines). The world today may not have a “makapili,” but it has a rough equivalent: the whistleblower.

The presence of an asset or a would-be whistleblower within an organization or an institution is a clear indication that the institution is under threat of lawlessness or is open for infiltration of corruption. No organization is ever safe from this threat, for as long as it harbors, albeit unknowingly, rotten eggs within its walls. No society, despite its good intentions, will ever be the ideal people’s domain for as long as evil spirits reside in their midst. This is exactly the conflict that is impairing the Philippine’s war against illegal drugs.

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