MANILA — “Yellow Rose,” the acclaimed film about Filipino immigrants in the United States, is finally debuting in the Philippines.
The film will be available for streaming on the ABS-CBN platforms KTX.ph and iWantTFC, as well as Cignal PPV and Sky Cable PPV beginning January 29.
Having already been shown in the United States and in various international festivals, director Diane Paragas admits that making it available in the Philippines is like “coming home.”
“I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. As much as it is an American film, it is definitely a Filipino film. I’m just really excited for people to see it there. It’s been many, many years trying to get this thing made so this is a big moment for me to have the film come out for our Filipino people,” she said in a virtual press conference on Thursday.
Sharing this sentiment are the film's stars Eva Noblezada and Princess Punzalan, who play Rose and her mom, respectively.
“Proud na proud ako na mapapanood na ng ating mga kababayan finally ang pelikulang ito dahil napansin siya dito sa Amerika and sa iba’t ibang films festivals internationally. Gusto kong makita din ng ating mga kababayan kung ano ba itong pelikula na ginawa namin. Excited talaga ako na mapanood ito ng mga kapamilya ko rin diyan,” Punzalan said.
“It’s so nice to be able to make the rounds. It’s struck the hearts of people from all over the world and now it’s finally coming back to the root of it all. So yeah it’s really like coming home,” added Noblezada.
“Yellow Rose” centers on a Filipina teen (Noblezada) from Texas whose country music dreams are derailed by a threat of deportation.
While it is not a true story, Paragas said “it is based on very real things that are happening to real people all over America.”
“It’s kind of loosely based from my time growing up in Texas. As a teenager I played music too, but not anywhere as near as good as Eva. But music was my outlet,” she said.
“There is some truth in everything that happens in the film. I did an extensive research because I am a documentary filmmaker so I interviewed a lot of Filipino families and their stories and what happened to them as they went through the system are what we see in the film,” she added.
The film began its festival circuit in 2019 before its US release in October 2020. By that time, the film had already reaped 13 jury and audience awards from various festivals including acting prizes for Noblezada, despite the project being her first movie role.
When asked to compare the challenges of on-camera acting and stage acting since she is more known as a theater actress, Noblezada, who starred in "Miss Saigon" both in the West End and on Broadway, said: “I would say for me the only major difference is the fact that there is a camera and that there are different frames that they are shooting with. That for me is the only difference.”
“The way that I try to act, I always want to make sure that I start off with a very strong foundation of authenticity. There is such an incredible power and magic that actors hold that if tomorrow I wanted to be a grandma from the 16th century, I can do that. I can have fun transporting my body and my mind to that world. We are living with one foot in reality, pulling from things that we’ve genuinely experienced so we can use that for our character, and also the one foot in imagination which is extremely important,” she said.
Meanwhile, Punzalan shared what part of the movie resonated with her the most on a personal level.
“Yung unang eksena namin ni Eva sa kwarto na alam natin na ang mga Pilipino importante ang education. Maraming nagsasabi sa akin, ‘Yung anak mo Princess talented. Pwedeng mag-artista. Bakit hindi mo pag-artistahin tutal mahilig din naman.’ Sabi ko, ‘Hindi. Mag-aral muna siya.’ 'Yung sentiments ng Pilipinong nanay na importante ang education, totoong totoo sa akin 'yun. So 'yung eksena namin ni Eva sa first part ng pelikula, totoong too iyon,” she said.
As representation becomes a more important issue all over the world, Paragas thinks things are starting to change “partly because people want to see different stories.”
“The fact that Sony Pictures bought this little movie says a lot. Hollywood is basically a business. They are not gonna make a movie because it is the right thing to do. That will never in a million years happen. They do it because it is good business. I think what is actually changing is what people want to see,” she said.
Joining Noblezada and PUnzalan in the cast are Broadway star Lea Salonga and American country singer Dale Watson.
The film was co-produced by ABS-CBN Global’s Cinematografo Originals, and is being distributed locally by ABS-CBN Films’ Cinexpress.