San Diego Filipino Film Festival kicks off inaugural event
Speaker 1: (00:00)
October is Filipino American history month. So it's the perfect time for San Diego Filipino cinema to launch its first ever San Diego Filipino film festival. The festival runs October 14th through 19th and a mix of virtual and in-person events, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Armando speaks with executive director Benito Bautista, who co-founded the festival with Emma Francisco
Speaker 2: (00:25)
Benito. Tell us what the San Diego Filipino cinema is all about.
Speaker 3: (00:28)
San Diego Filipino cinema is a 5 0 1 C3 nonprofit based in San Diego. And our mission is to discover and exhibit compelling films from the global Filipino filmmakers to the diverse community in San Diego. We also nurture, uh, emerging Filipino American filmmakers in San Diego. And you've been
Speaker 2: (00:52)
Doing this for three
Speaker 3: (00:53)
Years. This is our third year. Yes. Yeah, including pandemic. Yes.
Speaker 2: (01:00)
And you have very exciting news right now, which is you are staging your first Filipino film festival here in San Diego. So what is this going to entail?
Speaker 3: (01:10)
We are excited, nervous at the same time, proud and inspired to have the first San Diego Filipino film festival here in San Diego and the history of San Diego county. And so we have about 40 films plus you know, that we are on official selection and there are also some 30 plus films on online on a hybrid film festival. Just to give you sort of the highlights. You know, we have amazing films coming from Canada, from the Philippines, from Colorado, New Mexico, from New York, from Wisconsin, from LA everywhere, San Francisco, all over San Diego. And we have filmmakers coming and we have actors and producers and writers, our opening film to it's a feature documentary that represents Asian American women music, aging discrimination. It's entitled the Fanny
Speaker 4: (02:15)
Speaker 3: (02:19)
It's a band of Filipino American women in the sixties and seventies, uh, based in Sacramento. And they were rock musicians like the rolling stones, but they were never recognized by the American music industry, uh, because of the color of their skin. And also because members of the band were, uh, are LGBTQ. We also have a fantastic first feature film created by Dante Basco and Dante Basco is a Filipino American actor in Hollywood. Um, we also have a special work in progress screening of a long March by Tammy Botkin. I'm one of the co-producers of this film. It's a feature documentary about the story of the Filipino us army veterans of world war two,
Speaker 5: (03:12)
That service not recognized.
Speaker 6: (03:16)
It was 1946. Congress passed the rescission of Filipino soldiers that not have been on active duty.
Speaker 7: (03:24)
I never thought that being I met the run will be a secondary kitchen in the United States.
Speaker 2: (03:31)
And we were sitting here in the recently remodeled Mingei museum. And this is where your opening night is going to be. So explain what people can expect on opening night
Speaker 3: (03:40)
Opening. The opening night will be a celebration of Filipino food, of course, right? And then also we have a Filipino made whiskey and Filipino made, uh, Soju. And of course we have a red carpet.
Speaker 2: (03:56)
And how do you see film as being kind of an ambassador for a culture and being able to kind of expose people to maybe things that they're not familiar with? No,
Speaker 3: (04:07)
To answer your question, if you are open to cinema and you're willing to participate in it, it will be a journey into the unknown. And what's amazing about that is you will realize that you are actually traveling with cinema. You're traveling in a different culture, in a different language, in a different landscape, but it's a shared humanity. We share the same emotions. We share the same struggle and hurt and pain and love and you know, all those things. So it is simple, but it is powerful at the same time. So if you look at a city, you know, in any city, you know, in, in the world, you will realize that the cities that are with a lot of people, with a lot of tourists coming in, they want to engage in art. They want to engage in cinema. And so the more cinema you have in a city, the more people will gather and we'll travel, you know, into your city, you know, because they wanted to be informed and they want to be informed in a media that is again, simple and powerful, you know, cinema. Yeah.
Speaker 2: (05:34)
And San Diego has a large Filipino community. And what do you think having a festival like this will mean to that community?
Speaker 3: (05:41)
Very, very good question. Well, again, it goes back to the word nervous because Emma and I, and the board, of course, and our volunteers, we are excited. We are inspired, but we're nervous. This is a test we wanted to see if we can engage the community in participating in, in familiar stories or stories that they've never heard or stories moving forward that are coming from a younger generation, talking to them. It's, uh, it's showing them a mirror of, you know, familiar stuff and unfamiliar stuff, you know? And so we don't know how they are going to engage. Will they engage running to the theater? That will be awesome or they will not go, you know, but what we're excited about is that we have given San Diego sort of a platform to see, to see and be curious and, and find out what, what we have globally.
Speaker 3: (06:50)
Cause there are a lot of Filipinos globally and experience of a Filipino in Africa or the Philippines or California may not be the same, but the perspective might be the same. So we don't know. And we're excited about that. So yeah, we're inviting the Filipino American community to end a diverse community of course, and the Asian community and the AAPI community and the LGBTQ community to, to participate and, and yeah, and it's nice because you're not only watching films, but you're meeting real filmmakers and actors and writers and producers and musical composers. So yeah, if I am not, I, I'm not a filmmaker. I am just an audience. That will be awesome for me. So yes. I want to thank you for talking about the first San Diego Filipino film festival. Thank you, Beth. And thank you, uh, KPBS for having me seriously. It's been, it's an honor. It's an honor to be here. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (07:57)
That was Beth Armando speaking with Benito. Baltista the inaugural San Diego Filipino film festival kicks off tomorrow night at the Mingei international museum.
New festival showcases 40 films in person and more online
When Benito Bautista and Emma Francisco started making films more than a decade ago, they felt like they had no platform to show their work. When they arrived in San Diego in 2015 they decided to make a difference to both the Filipino and filmmaking communities. So they founded San Diego Filipino Cinema in 2018.
"Our mission is to discover and exhibit compelling films from the global Filipino filmmakers to the diverse community in San Diego," said executive director and co-founder Bautista.
This week the nonprofit takes a historic step and launches the first ever San Diego Filipino Film Festival. The ambitious inaugural event will showcase more than 40 films in person and another 30 online.
"What we're excited about is that we have given San Diego sort of a platform to see and be curious and find out what we have globally, because there are a lot of Filipinos globally," Bautista said. "And the experience of a Filipino in Africa or the Philippines or California may not be the same."
But sometimes there are common threads especially among the short films.
"I think the common thread with all the films is about family life, Filipino family life," said Francisco, who is in charge of programming for the festival. "And living in the U.S., their frustrations with their parents not supporting them as artists. That's always there, but also we have fresh new voices that we're excited about not only talking about familiar issues but also about something different just for the sake of telling a good story."
The festival and San Diego Filipino Cinema provide an opportunity to not just showcase fresh voices but also to support filmmakers.
"That's really what we're excited about," Francisco added. "Hopefully to inspire young filmmakers to share their own stories and hopefully give them the tools that they need in order to be a sustainable filmmaker."
But putting on a festival for the first time can be challenging.
"We are inspired, but we're nervous because this is a test," Bautista said. "We wanted to see if we can engage the community in participating in familiar stories or stories that they've never heard or stories moving forward that are coming from a younger generation talking to them. But we don't know, we don't know how they are going to engage. Will they come running to theater, that would be awesome, or will they not go."
Francisco added, "Benito and I have dreamt about this for a long time since we were into Philippines filming our films and watching the audience, how films made such an impact to them."
Bautista sees that impact too.
"I see the transformative impact of cinema and how we can actually change our motivation for existence because of the things that we see and we hear, especially when the filmmaker is there and then we learn about the process and the meaning and the subtext that are embedded in the film that has been made," Bautista explained. "It's a shared humanity. We share the same emotions."
Thursday is opening night and the awards gala will be held Oct. 18 be at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park. Cristina Godinez is corporate and community liaison for the museum, which recently completely elaborate renovations and now open to the public.
"I'm excited to use this opportunity to show other arts and culture nonprofit organizations that this space belongs to them," Godinez said. "It's not just about the Mingei. It's about sharing the space with everyone."
The museum has a special Community Monday program where they open up the new screening room and meeting space for free to nonprofits that don't have venues of their own.
The opening night film is a rock 'n' roll documentary called "Fanny."
"It's a band of Philippine American women in the '60s and '70s based in Sacramento. And they were rock musicians like the Rolling Stones, but they were never recognized by the American music industry because of the color of their skin," said Bautista. "We also have a special work in progress screening of 'A Long March' by Tammy Botkin. I'm one of the co-producers of this film. It's a feature documentary about the story of the Filipino U.S. Army veterans of World War II, and again, they were not recognized after the war."
Bautista is thrilled to finally be showing films in person again because there’s a magic to watching movies in a cinema together.
"The reason is because we might be four people in the theater. But we share the fluctuations and the emotional ups and downs of the film," Bautista said. "And I'm excited to experience that with audience as they watch the film as we watch the films."
San Diego Filipino Film Festival will attract far more than four people with its diverse selection of films. It is a welcome addition to San Diego’s rich array of film festivals and offers a wonderful complement to our San Diego Asian Film Festival (San Diego Filipino Cinema has worked with Pac-Arts over the years) by allowing even greater representation of a Filipino perspective.
The festival runs Oct. 14 through Oct. 19 in a mix of virtual and in-person events taking place at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park and AMC Otay Ranch Theaters.