Did you know that the world’s smallest actor was only 2 foot 9 inches tall and called Weng Weng? No, well you do now and he came from the Philippines. Andrew Leavold was so affected by the world’s smallest actor, Weng Weng, after seeing For Your Height Only that he set off on a quest to find out what became of Weng Weng.
Seven years later and interviews with all the major players of Filipino cinema of the 1970s and early 1980s including Imelda Marcos and what we see is a tale of exploitation, corruption, greed and the way in which those with disabilities were and still are treated by the Philippines.
Weng Weng we learn during the course of the documentary was born Ernesto de la Cruz into a poor family. He was “discovered” by Peter and Cora Caballes who set out to make him a star. He did indeed become the biggest star in Filipinio cinema in the late 70s to early 80s, playing the role of 00 of influenced by James Bond 007, including a visit to the Cannes Film Festival in 1981. However the darker side of this tale is the exploitation that Weng Weng suffered. He never received any of the money he made and died destitute.
Andrew Leavold’s film is moving, funny, touching, sometimes clumsy but above all passionate about discovering the fate of Weng Weng. Imelda Marcos despite being in her 80s steals the documentary film from Weng Weng. She quite literally puts in a star turn and her birthday party is painful to watch but I was transfixed. I almost wanted to see more about her. I do hope he makes a film about her next maybe called – after the shoes are gone!
This documentary film has echoes of the Oscar winning Searching For Sugarman in its’ quest to find out the truth behind the enigma in this case – Weng Weng. It is an enjoyable, interesting and informative documentary about Weng Weng and the Filipino film industry and a must watch for anyone interested in learning more about this part of the world or just seeing the results of a 7 year quest by a passionate cinephile.
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