Ditsi Carolino is an award-winning Filipina documentary director and producer. Her films, hailed by many for their rawness and authenticity, deal with basic human rights issues in the Philippines such as child labor and adult illiteracy. She had a hand in a number of the industry's most acclaimed contemporary documentaries, a few of which are Minsan Lang Sila Bata, Masakit sa Mata, and Bunso. Nearly all of her documentaries are character-driven, and most, if not all, revolve around symbolic faces like the delinquent orphan and the unlearned elder.
Education and Early Career
Carolino initially took up Medicine at the University of the Philippines. However, the rousing militant sentiment during the Martial Law Period influenced her to lean towards social science subjects instead. She later shifted to Sociology and graduated in 1982. After college, she did social work for grassroots communities in Mindanao, documenting an assortment of local issues through photographs and slideshows. While working for a Davao-based NGO, she attended a photography workshop and realized she had a good eye. Soon after, she joined the breakthrough news magazine show The Probe Team as a production assistant.
Motivated by her close association with advocacy and outreach efforts, she felt the need to branch out into filmmaking. So in 1990, Carolino attended a workshop on documentary production at the Mowelfund. After the workshop, she travelled to the UK under a two-year grant to pursue graduate studies and entered a program referred to simply as Advance Program at the National Film and Television School.
Since finishing the film workshop and her graduate studies, Carolino has directed numerous documentaries, many of them on the lives and struggles of the poor—rural and urban. She has worked with long-time filmmaking partner and cinematographer Nana Buxani in most of her documentaries.
Carolino's works, particularly the ones on children, have won many awards in the country and abroad. After learning about the trade in the early 90s, Carolino started co-directing the Mowelfund workshop product Masakit sa Mata in 1991. What followed was a series of eye-opening documentaries; Manggagawa, Kamanlilikha, Trails to an Answer, Pinakatagong Lihim ng Simbahan, Liberating Coops, and Keeping the Coop Fire Burning. In 1996, she released what would be a breakthrough in Philippine documentary filmmaking entitled No Time for Play. The film has since been shown in schools all over the Philippines to stress the importance of education.
Carolino's film on child scavengers Dapit-hapon sa Tambakan, and Minsan Lang Sila Bata on child labor, both won Best Documentary at the Gawad CCP and the Film Academy of the Philippines. Minsan Lang Sila Bata also won the Gold Medal for documentary filmmaking at the 1999 New York Festival and the Grand Prix Toutes Category at the 1998 Brussels Independent Film Festival. In 2002, Carolino came out with Riles, a film which takes a closer look at the lives of Filipinos living beside railway tracks, apparently the result of her two-year study in the UK. Meanwhile, the UNICEF and Consuelo Foundation project Bunso, perhaps Carolino's most critically-acclaimed work yet, continues to earn praise in local and international film circles. The documentary examines the lives of juvenile detainees in a provincial jail, highlighting three youngsters who are forced to live with convicted murderers and rapists inside the dingy cells of the prison.
- Truth be told Youth and Campus article, The Manila Bulletin (accessed October 1, 2008)
- Top Notch Film Makers encounters.co.za (accessed October 1, 2008)
- Ditsi Carolino Profile Geocities.com/philmovies (accessed October 1, 2008)
- UNICEF film about children in jail wins director award in international festival UNICEF Philippines (accessed October 1, 2008)