SAN FRANCISCO – Filipino American filmmaker Isabel Sandoval’s “Lingua Franca” bagged the Best International Narrative Film at the 15th Tel Aviv International LGBT Film festival, its ninth award from festivals in the Philippines, France, Texas, Arkansas., Ukraine, Portugal, Norway, Russia and Israel.
“Lingua Franca” is the story of an undocumented Filipina trans caregiver in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach who is trying to pursue marriage to get a green card. But there is nothing simple in the narrative, which goes way beyond your regular romantic indie drama.
“Lingua Franca” at its core is about finding personal liberty, identity and dignity in the complex mise-en-scène of the times in the U.S. It is ultimately an authentic American immigrant story. And judging from the reception in various international film festivals, this theme is resonating.
In a recent interview with Inquirer.net Sandoval (who wrote, produced, directed and edited the film) emphasized that “Lingua Franca” as a film “is not meant to push for gay or queer rights. It’s about wanting the same civil rights and liberties afforded to cisgender and heterosexual individuals – and that’s the right to live and love freely, without inhibition.”
Sandoval added: “I am not the kind of director who prescribes solutions to issues that are complex and thorny. But I like to think that I ask thought-provoking questions and present characters and situations that encourage people to think more deeply about the themes that my films touch on.”
“Lingua Franca” producer Jhett Tolentino told ABS-CBN TFC’s BA New York correspondent Don Tagala, “Any citizen should be able to serve our country and this movie is a platform. We’re also pushing the envelope that regardless of who you are, where you come from, we are all equal.”
Jude Dry of IndieWire writes: “Isabel Sandoval’s luminous third feature announces the arrival of a new era of trans auteurs, illustrating the woefully untapped potential of marginalized storytellers.”
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