WANTED: FILIPINO-AMERICAN FILMMAKERS
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At Blockbuster or Hollywood video outlets you'll never see any Filipino 
American films. Ethnic minority movies and documentaries seldom made it 
to these movie rental outlets. Such movies are not attractive to bigtime 
Hollywood producers mainly because there is no sizable audience for these 
films. 

Who would ever see big profit from such as movies that possibly could be 
shown only in small theaters (usually school auditoriums) and maybe could 
only be shown in local PBS stations at unholy hour instead of primetime 
in network stations or cable channels. 

The biggest Fil-Am film stars were not even given a chance to show 
their ethnicity. Rob Schneider did show his Filipinoness in "Deuce 
Bigelow" ,and perhaps the most glaring one that I can recall, when 
he had a 'strawberry bibingka' as a cake for his father's birthday. 
Rob Schneider, by the way is half-Filipino, his mother being a 
Filipina. Other than this one incident, I remember nothing else that 
shows Filipino culture reflected in part - please enlighten me if 
there are any. 

The most recent Filipino-American film, "The Debut", is not even out yet
due to lack of financial backing for it's marketing - a very expensive
undertaking. Being of ethnic subject, Hollywood producers definitely
shied away from such film and the producers will have to look for any
other way of funding the movie release. It took Gene Cagayon 8 years 
to canned this opus, starting in 1992 while in his senior year at Los 
Angeles' Loyola Marymount University. He even casted several Filipino
veteran actors such Tirso Cruz III and Eddie Garcia to give his movie
an appeal to Filipino crowd. But his cast, were all mostly of local 
talent. We indeed have a talent in arts and acting, we can be good in 
this medium provided we can break through the barrier for Asian American 
sterotype roles. 

But nevertheless, we still produced quite an ensemble of bankable 
Filipino-American actors with the likes of Lou Diamond Philipp, Tia 
Carrera, Tamlyn Tomita, Nia Peeples and of course, Rob Schneider - to 
name some. Not to mention the Filipino Americans TV personalities like 
Von Flores and Brandon Baker.

However, as filmmakers we are still way behind. "Mission Impossible:2", 
predicted to be the No.1 hit this summer of 2000 was directed by 
veteran Chinese director, John Woo. He counts such hit movies as "
Broken Arrow" and "Face-Off". He is one the hottest directors in tinsel town.
But he honed his film making skills in Hong Kong prior to hitting it big
in Hollywood. There is nobody else that can be compared to Woo. Local Asian 
American talents need more nurturing and opportunities to develop their
talents. Young Filipino American aspiring filmmakers must have the 
encouragement and funding to make their projects a reality.One possible 
source is NAATA - National Asian American Telecommunication Association
which awards sums of $20,000 to $50,000 to production and post production 
phase of the project.NAATA was founded 20 years ago by Asian Americans 
around the country and now getting funds from Corporation for Public 
Broadcasting as mandated by congress to increase minority visibility on 
public television. Political clout makes a lot of difference and with out 
the lawmakers writing the bill for it, we will surely be begging Hollywood 
to support our budding Filipino American filmakers.

Movie is the best but the costliest medium in showcasing Filipino culture
due for a fact that it can capture the attention of mass audience for the
longest time. Knowing to make movies is a craft and making movies is a
big undertaking and big financial backing. If ever these movies were made
will the target market watch them - I hope they would. But getting them to
see the movie is another matter. 

Here are some the more recent Filipino-American Projects:

1998 Media Fund Awardees 

An Untold Triumph: America's Filipino Soldiers
by Noel M. Izon 

The men and families of the First and Second Infantry Regiments 
of the US Army share their experiences in this documentary. 
Their fight for citizenship would find its answer in America's 
battle for democracy. This is the story of these 7,000 immigrants 
and sons of immigrants and the war that changed their lives forever. 

1997 Media Fund Awardees 
  
Steel Butterfly
by Ramona Diaz 

Diaz reveals the dark, intimate side of Imelda Marcos -the infamous 
former first lady of the Philippines- looking at her childhood, 
her marriage to Ferdinand Marcos, their 20-year control of the 
Philippines, and her current position as a congresswoman. 

The Splendid Little War
by Frances Negron-Muntaner and Beni Matias 

The first in a two-part documentary series, "The Splendid Little War" 
examines the impact of the Spanish-American War from 1898 to 1917, 
through dramatic and representative stories primarily set in each 
of the occupied countries: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. 


Archive - Some Filipino-American Films that were made earlier:

Bontoc Eulogy 
Producer:Marlon E. Fuentes
Genre/Year/Length:
Dramatic short, 1995, 56 minutes
Description:

The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair brought many wonders to thousands 
of visitors, including a live exhibit of "primitive" tribesmen from 
what is now known as the Philippines. What happened to these people, 
or "specimens" as they were called, and what became of their 
"contribution" to anthropological science? Their compelling story 
is revealed by a present-day Filipino American, whose grandfather 
Markod was exhibited as an Igorot warrior at the Fair. Part truth, 
part fantasy, Bontoc Eulogy combines archival photos and footage 
with contemporary live-action scenes, exploring the complex psychology 
behind a unique and celebrated event -- the turn-of-the-century World's 
Fair -- where race, science, and politics intertwined in a manner and 
on a scale never to be seen again. A 1996 International Documentary 
Association (IDA) Award nominee.


Producer/Director/Writer/Editor: Marlon E. Fuentes
Co-Producers:Dave Kluft, Carolyn Brodbeck 
Camera: Reuben Domingo, Marlon Fuentes, Tommy Hafalla, Chris 
Manley, Bridget Yearian 
Music: Douglas Quin
Producer Bio:
Marlon E. Fuentes is a filmmaker, photographer and conceptual artist 
who was born in the Philippines. His work has been shown in over sixty 
individual and group exhibitions over the last fifteen years. He is 
represented in such collections as the Smithsonian Institution's 
National Museum of American Arts, the National Museum of American 
History, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Library of Congress, 
the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

"Silencio" 
Producer:Michael Arago
Genre/Year/Length:
Dramatic short, 1996, 9 minutes
Description:

In 1951, San Francisco, racism takes a subtle toll on a young 
Filipino American and his family, as he tries to adjust to his 
predominantly white surroundings.

"Silencio" focuses on a young Filipino American trying to adjust to 
his predominantly Caucasian workplace in 1950's San Francisco. This 
thought-provoking short film explores the subtle ways racism affects 
members of a multi-ethnic family. On a quest to climb the corporate 
ladder, Jack had been passing himself off as Italian at the office. 
Suddenly, on his way to a business lunch with co-workers, he is 
confronted with the presence of his Filipino uncle walking down the 
street. As they pass each other, Jack's overwhelming need to hide his 
heritage and fit in at work forces him to snub his uncle in the 
presence of his co-workers.

Credits:
Director/Writer: Michael Arago
Camera: Michael Anders
Sound Mix: Rebecca Ormond
Original Music: Michael Arago & Glenn Gullmes
Producer Bio:
Michael Arago is a second generation San Franciscan. He received a 
Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from UCLA. After several 
years of working in film production and development in Los Angeles, he 
returned to the Bay Area where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 
Cinema Production at San Francisco State University. Arago's films 
include the experimental/documentary film, Powell Street Station and 
dramatic film, "Before The Law." Arago currently contributes film reviews 
to Reel.com and previously worked as a freelance film journalist for the 
San Francisco Bay Guardian and San Francisco Weekly. 

 
 
Spirits Rising 
Producers:Ramona S. Diaz
Genre/Year/Length
Documentary
Description:

The incredible story of Corazon Aquino and her political triumph is 
framed by a celebration of women in the Philippines through a look 
at their history, literature, art and film.

In "Spirits Rising," Ramona Diaz counterpoints the story of the 
Filipina throughout pre- and post-colonial Filipino history with 
the incredible story of Corazon Aquino's People Power revolution 
over the Marcos regime. Diaz draws elements from history, literature, 
art, music and film to weave a compelling tapestry of the Filipina 
experience -- a vivid display of how women are a powerful force 
shaping and directing modern culture and society in the Philippines. 
Archival footage and interviews, including a memorable sequence 
with Imelda Marcos, recreate the suspenseful drama of the days 
leading up to Marcos fleeing the country. The winner of a 1996 
Student Academy Award.


Producer/Director/Editor: Ramona S. Dia
Camera: Sara Whiteley
Writers: Ramona S. Diaz, Nancy Brink
Music: Socorro de Castro, Norman Landsberg
Narrator: Wilma B. Consul
Producer Bio:

Ramona S. Diaz is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker whose 
Credits include the award-winning "Spirits Rising," "Exits" and 
"In Residence." She is currently an associate producer for Cadillac 
Desert, a major PBS documentary produced and directed by Jon Else. 
Prior to her work as an independent maker, Ramona was a line producer 
and editor for a 24-part television series entitled Apple Pie, Patis, 
Pate, atbp., in the Philippines. She has also worked for Mary Tyler 
Moore Productions and Lorimar Productions. A graduate of Emerson 
College in Boston, Diaz holds an MA in Communications from Stanford 
University. 
  
  
Sources:
Francisco Aliwalas' "Disoriented" 
August 11-13 2000 - The 1st San Diego Asian Film Festival at Univ.of San Diego
Gene Cagayon's "The Debut" web site
More Review of "The Debut"
NAATA  National Asian American Telecommunications Association 
PBS  - Public Broadcasting Corporation - for local listings



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