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Filipino filmmakers celebrated at Sundance 2023

Yong Chavez | TFC News Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah

Posted at Jan 28 2023 03:55 PM | Updated as of Jan 28 2023 07:31 PM

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Filipino filmmakers are among those who premiered their work at Sundance, one of the world’s most popular film festivals.

Created by Hollywood actor Robert Redford, the festival showcases the best from independent talents around the world.

Kayla Abuda Galang. Photo credit: Sundance
Kayla Abuda Galang Sundance

Kayla Abuda Galang, a 2021 South by Southwest award-winner for her short film ‘Learning Tagalog with Kayla,’ made it to Sundance with her short ‘When You Left Me On That Boulevard.’

“In the past, I've seen portrayals of Filipino American culture and Filipinos that can sometimes feel satirical or farcical and that doesn't really sit well with me,” she shared. “I just really want to honor the experiences of my community and my family members instead of making fun of them. And so that's really important to me.”

The writer-directors were honored and celebrated by those who attended the festival through the Sunrise Breakfast Series panel for Asian talents.

Filipino American filmmaker Jarreau Carrillo shared what it meant to have the support of the community. His Sundance short film is titled ‘The Vacation.’

Carillo said, “I’m Black-Filipino so it could be a difficult thing to kind of negotiate those two different cultures. But I always had a sense of community and culture surrounding me with a very rich artist focus as well. Creating something that I feel like is authentic to who I am and my experience and be able to have resonated with people is almost making me cry. It's like beyond belief.”

“Being an artist, having a community is the most important thing for an artist because this is a hard process, trying to become a filmmaker or any type of artist,” he added.

Jarreau Carrillo, Kayla Abuda Galang, Kenneth Dagatan, Irene Soriano
(L to R) Jarreau Carrillo, Kayla Abuda Galang, Kenneth Dagatan, short film programmer for the Sundance Film Festival Irene Soriano.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Dagatan is the director of the Sundance feature film entry ’In My Mother’s Skin.’

The Manila-based filmmaker honed his storytelling skills through his years with Star Cinema and he first pitched and developed his film with ABS-CBN.

“Medyo surreal to be honest dahil hindi namin inakala na pupunta kami dito, and it’s Sundance, it’s a dream come true for us. And meeting a lot of people I look up to is a bit overwhelming, and it’s fun,” Dagatan said.

Another Filipino filmmaker, Maria Estela Paiso, was unable to make it to Sundance but her short film ‘It’s Raining Frogs Outside’ was also part of this year’s offerings.

Last year, Philippine Independent Cinema scored two major wins at the 2022 Sundance Film festival for the feature ‘Leonor Will Never Die’ and the short film ‘The Headhunter's Daughter.’