Netflix docu ‘Happy Jail’ to feature online viral sensation Cebu’s dancing inmates

Happy Jail Cebu's Dancing inmates
The dancing inmates of Cebu will be featured on the 5-part Netflix series “Happy Jail” which premieres on August 14. Credits to Happy Jail Instagram

The new Netflix documentary ‘Happy Jail” is set to feature the online viral dancing inmates of Cebu in Central Philippines.

It was in 2007 when the video of Cebu inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was posted on YouTube and caught the world’s attention, and now their stories will be told across the world.

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This is not the first time the popular online site Netflix will be streaming films or documentaries with Filipino content.

Netflix started streaming critically acclaimed Filipino film Heneral Luna on November 2018, followed by 13 more films from Star Cinema, Viva Films, and Spring Films.

This 2019, hit movie Goyo Ang Batang Heneral made it to the list of films available for streaming.

Filipino personalities have also been appearing on the site such as first Filipina Miss Universe winner Gloria Diaz on the hit Netflix series “Insatiable,” Filipino chefs in the “Street Food” series, and “Jo Koy: Live from Seattle” featuring Filipino-American comedian, Jo Koy.

The documentary ‘Happy Jail,’ which premieres on August 14, will take the audience beyond the dance, song, and choreography and deeper into the lives of prisoners behind the Cebu Provincial and Rehabilitation Center maximum-security.

The 5-part documentary series is directed by Emmy award-winning Filipino-American director Michele Josue with producers Liam Mcniff and Joe Amodei.

Josue expressed how proud she was for this project as it was set in the Philippines and tells the story of her fellow Filipinos.

“As a Filipina-American filmmaker, it’s incredibly important to me to share stories that can connect people, regardless of difference, and with the case of ‘Happy Jail,’ hopefully usher Filipino stories into the mainstream,” the award-winning Fil-Am director said in a statement to media.

“Seeing the dancing inmates perform with such joy and unity, I felt that familiar Pinoy pride and immediately recognized that this extraordinary program was perfectly emblematic of the Filipino people and our love of music, dance, and performance,” Josue added.

Michelle Josue also expressed her gratitude to everyone, the government officials of Cebu and most especially to the popular dancing inmates for sharing their stories and making the documentary project a success.

“It was an honor to bear witness to such a monumental chapter of their lives and to be entrusted with telling their story in the honest, sensitive, and respectful way it deserves to be told. We are proud of ‘Happy Jail’ and how it gives a voice to the most vulnerable section of the Philippines’ population and tells the world that these voices and these stories matter,” the internationally-awarded filmmaker said.

WATCH the trailer of Happy Jail documentary here and SEND cheers in the comments below for the Cebu Dancing Inmates and the makers of the documentary!


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Atom Pornel is a tourism and broadcast journalism major who loves local art and heritage and is passionate about anything good news from the Philippines. Born from a Bicolano-Odionganon father and Waray mother, he has grown appreciation of our diversity as nation.