Based on a true story, Cuchera is about Filipino drug mules, drug couriers and their recruiters. It follows the story of Isabel, a veteran drug mule, in her first attempt at running her own drug transshipment operation between Manila and China. Isabel’s character is based on the story of an actual Filipina drug mule who was caught with eight capsules of heroin lodged in her sex organ, 48 in the rectum and 11 in her abdomen after an x-ray was conducted by Chinese authorities. Cuchera presents an accurate depiction of how some Filipinos end up becoming entrenched in the world of illegal drugs. Currently, the Philippines leads all Southeast Asian countries in the number of nationals arrested for drug smuggling charges in China. As of 2009, there are currently 95 Filipinos languishing in various jails in Chinese territories---four of whom are on death row. Violators include minors who enter China with fake passports.
Joseph Israel Laban is a multi-media journalist and independent filmmaker. He obtained his Master’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in News and Documentary at New York University’s Arthur Carter Journalism Institute on a Fulbright Scholarship. Last year, his short film Antipo was an Official Selection at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner. He was also a contributing writer of the book Wrong Against Rights: Impunity Across Southeast Asia, where he wrote about the challenges faced by the fledgling East Timor press and the country’s quest to find justice to human rights violations under the 25 years of Indonesian occupation. He finished his internship at The New York Times video unit where he edited and shot videos, wrote scripts and assisted in the production of video stories for its website. Joseph is now Managing Producer for GMA News and Public Affairs where he directs, writes and produces documentaries like the well-received Wildlife for Sale. He also produced the documentary “Kalbayo sa Kaharian” which tackled the plight of “distressed” Overseas Filipino Workers in Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His documentaries have won numerous awards including a Gold World Medal at the 2008 New York Festivals International Television & Film Awards, a Silver Screen Award at the 2008 US International Film and Video Festival and an “Ani ng Dangal” Award from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). During his tenure as senior producer of Reporter’s Notebook, the Singapore-based Asian Television Awards also recognized the program as the Best Current Affairs Show in the region beating out entries from CNN International and Al-Jazeera English. Joseph has written a one act play on domestic violence which received recognition in the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines at Diliman.
Major Credits: Cast:
Maria Isabel Lopez as Isabel, Simon Ibarra as Samuel, CJ Ramos as Lobo, Paolo Rivero as Enzo, Jon Neri as Jonathan, Sue Prado as Lolita, Isadora as Rosa and Kimmy Maclang as Clarissa.