WRETCHED LIVES focuses on Vanessa, a cosmetics consultant who is forced to care for her troubled and mentally-challenged sister after the sudden death of their mother. Her hustler boyfriend, Olivier, seems unreliable and Vanessa soon abandons him for Uno, an ostensibly liberal and caring substitute. But Uno isn’t exactly as he seems. In fact, he makes Olivier’s petty crimes look like a choirboy’s indiscretions, underscoring the film’s critical premise: the corruption of the political elite and their exploitation of the poor. Set in the early nineties, during the short-lived and ill-fated reign of Joseph Estrada, the film offers up a society in hellish microcosm. Central to WRETCHED LIVES is its outrage at the manipulation of the poor for purely political purposes. When riots are staged, organizers use the poor as a front and then abandon them, leaving them to distrust even those who actually try to support them. Liberals are only public liberals; when they come home, they follow a completely different agenda. Innocence is a license to be abused.