37th Asian American International Film Festival Highlights Filipino Film Slate

Asian CineVision and the 37th Asian American International Film Festival are proud to present a collection of diverse Filipino films concentrating on identity, history, and arts in the Philippines and Filipino diaspora communities. The Filipino and Filipino American selection for this year’s festival features TRANSIT, HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY, PRETTY ROSEBUD, THE COTABATO SESSIONS (documentary short and music performance), DELANO MANONGS (documentary short) and HYPEBEASTS (narrative short).

AAIFF'14 Centerpiece, feature film TRANSIT, was a sweeping success at the 2013 Cinemalaya grabbing awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress and was also the Philippines’ foreign-language submission for the 86th Academy Awards. This timely drama is Hannah Espia's directorial debut and focuses on the deportation of children born to foreign workers in Israel.

Raya Martin's HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY is a fascinating experimental horror following a young country girl who dreams to evanesce from her religious mom and alcoholic dad. The critically acclaimed and sensually stimulating film was a 2013 Festival del film Locarno selection.

PRETTY ROSEBUD is a family and political drama written by and stars Filipina-Chinese American actress Chuti Tiu (24, THE INTERNSHIP), charting the story of Cissy who finds her primal desire that is both shocking and revelatory underneath her seemingly perfect life.

In THE COTABATO SESSIONS, composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra and director Joel Quizon team up to document the legacy of artist Danongan Kalanduyan and his family of the Cotabato City in Mindanao, Philippines. As practitioners of the indigenous art form known as kulintang (rhythmic gong ensemble music) and the radiant dance that often accompanies it, the Kalanduyan family is highly regarded in their native land for sustaining the musical tradition.

ITVS grantee Marissa Aroy’s remarkable documentary DELANO MANONGS sheds light on the background of the Delano Grape Strike in 1965 led by Filipino American labor organizer, Larry Itliong. The film rediscovers the fearless endeavors of the Filipino immigrants since they landed in the U.S. in the early 20th Century.

HYPEBEASTS is an updated DO THE RIGHT THING in Filipino Style made by emerging director Jess dela Merced. The film is about two young Filipino-American siblings' night taking a turn for the worst the night before the most coveted new sneakers go on sale.

Filmmakers and artists who will attend the Festival include Hannah Espia, director of TRANSIT, Chuti Tiu (writer and star) and Oscar Torre (director) of PRETTY ROSEBUD), Joel Quizon (director), Susie Ibarra (musician, producer and subject artist) and Danongan Kalanduyan (dancer and subject artist) of THE COTABATO SESSIONS, Marissa Aroy, director of DELANO MANONGS, and Gigi Dement, Academy Award nominee, producer of HYPEBEASTS.

For extended film descriptions, please see below. To see descriptions of all the films playing at the 37th Asian American International Film Festival, please view the full press release at aaiff.org.


Dir. Hannah Espia | The Philippines | 2013 | 93 mins | English, Hebrew, Tagalog with English subtitles | New York Premiere  

July 27, 7:30 pm City Cinema Village East

When Moises, a Filipino single-dad working as a caregiver in Herzliya, Israel comes home to Tel Aviv to celebrate his son Joshua’s fourth birthday, his world is suddenly turned upside down by unnerving political news: the Israeli government is deporting children of all foreign workers. Fearful of the new law, Moises, alongside his Filipino neighbor, Janet, hides their children from the immigration police by making them hermits of their own homes. TRANSIT is an earthy portrait centering on displaced people—refugees, immigrants and foreign workers. It puts the conception of subject identity, home and national identification in question that is distinctly relevant to the present world under the influence of globalization. As director Hannah Espia’s feature debut, Transit was the Filipino entry for Best Foreign Film at the 86th Academy Awards.  



Dir. Raya Martin | 2013 | The Philippines | 79 min | Filipino, Tagalog with English subtitles | East Coast Premiere  

Aug 1, 10:00 pm City Cinema Village East

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY is a fascinating, experimental thriller composed with both cinema-vérité-like and dramatic visuals and a dreamy electro soundtrack. The film follows a young girl from the countryside that dreams to evanesce. While her mother quotes Scripture and her father absorbs himself in alcohol and history, she plays a lonely game of hide-and-seek. One day, the young girl decides to put on a stage play based on an old Filipino film about a family who disappears in the mountains during war. The movie takes a thrilling, provocative turn when soon after the performance, she vanishes from the car, prompting her parents to look for her in the woods. One by one, they all start to disappear.  



Dir. Oscar Torre | 2014 | 81 mins | New York City Premiere

July 26, 1:00 pm City Cinema Village East

Everyone thinks Cissy has the perfect life – except Cissy. A childless marriage has gone stale. Questions about babies pepper every well-meaning conversation with family and friends. And the cultural abyss dividing Cissy and her Chinese Dad and Filipino-Spanish mom drives the “always-the-good-girl” to a desperate act of survival. Cissy is awakened to something so primal that is both shocking and revelatory. PRETTY ROSEBUD is written by the leading actress of the film, Chuti Tiu (THE INTERNSHIP, RAMPART), debut-directed by Cuban American actor and director Oscar Torre (THE HANGOVER 3) and produced by Rebecca Hu (40 IS THE NEW DEAD).



Dir. Joel Quizon | 2014 | The Philippines, USA | English, Tagalog with English subtitles | 29 mins | East Coast Premiere  

July 30, 6:30pm Asia Society  

A music-meets-cinema collaboration with composer and percussionist Susie Ibarra and director Joel Quizon, THE COTABATO SESSIONS is a documentary of the musical legacy of National Heritage artist, Danongan Kalanduyan and his family of Cotabato City in Mindanao, The Philippines. Practitioners of the indigenous art form known as kulintang (rhythmic gong ensemble music) and the colorful dance that often accompanies it revering the Kalanduyan family as respected elders upholding the tradition. Kulintang known as a feminine instrument has a unique history of crossing Philippine Indigenous matriarchal society and Muslim cultures. The film features this legacy through the Kalanduyan’s performing art practice.

Featuring musical performances captured both for the camera and for the audio, THE COTABATO SESSIONS is a uniquely intimate music documentary in its droll and observant way. The film manages to create a poetic, celebratory work that foregrounds the practitioners of this signature Philippine art form and ponders its future in the contemporary society. (Film Length: 29 mins | Program Length: 60 mins)



Dir. Marissa Aroy | 2013 | USA | 26 mins

August 2, 3:00 pm City Cinema Village East

Marissa Aroy’s remarkable documentary DELANO MANONGS sheds light on the Filipino farmworkers behind the Delano Grape Strike in 1965. Later the Manongs (a respectful term for older man in Tagalog) joined forces with the Chicano movement leader César Chávez and other ethnic workers, to found the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). Infused with archival footage, DELANO MANONGS chronicles the historic incidents in the history of American farm labor, rediscovers the Filipino immigrants’ fearless endeavors since they landed in the country early 20th Century, and profiles the individual farming heroes whose legacies remain relevant and inspiring even today. (Film Length: 26 mins | Program Length: 87 mins)



Dir. Jess dela Merced  | 2014 | USA | 20 mins

July 27, 5:00 pm City Cinema Village East

The most coveted new sneaker goes on sale at 8:00 am and sneakerheads across the country are camping out overnight to get them. RONNY, a young Filipino-American has been dreaming of these shoes for months. But Ronny’s night takes a turn for the worst when he sees in the sneaker line the cashier who has made a racist joke about his sister JUSTINE. (Film Length: 20 mins | Program Length: 88 mins)