A Rustling of Leaves: Inside the Philippine Revolution chronicles the three points of a political triangle: the legal left, the illegal (armed) revolution, and the enemy which threatens them both: the armed reactionary right. It is 1987. The dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos has just been overthrown. Newly elected President Corazon Aquino struggles to wrench control of the country from her own military
In the mountains, rebel priest Father Navaro and the communist New People’s Army continue to fight an armed revolution. Kummander Dante, founder of the rebel army, is released from prison. He decides to give President Aquino’s new democracy a chance and runs for senator. Radio DJ June Pala is the voice of the Anti-Communist Crusade. He fashions himself after Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels and broadcasts threats to send vigilante death squads after underground guerillas and left-wing activists alike.
The vigilantes begin infiltrating Father Navaro’s region. At the same time, the election campaign brings Dante to Davao City, once a stronghold of the New People’s Army, now firmly in the hands of the death squads and Jun Pala. Father Navaro must also confront the vigilantes in a grim battle for hearts and minds when he leas a “People’s Court” trial of a teenage guerilla fighter accused of defecting to the government and informing on the revolutionaries. Dante returns to Manila and is defeated at the polls. Four weeks later he is ambushed. With five bullets in his back, he survives.
A Rustling of Leaves poses the key question facing the revolutionaries and the Filipino Left: should the people’s movement continue the guerilla war, or do they dare enter legal politics and reveal the hidden face of the revolution? Edited with the tension of a drama, with original music and animation, A Rustling of Leaves spins these elements into a powerful story, accessibly told by a filmmaker who cares deeply for her subject.