A Filipino-Canadian filmmaker’s short film has premiered at the Vancouver International Women Film Festival in British Columbia.
King Louie Palomo’s film was the only movie about queer love that was included in the roster of films to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.
While Palomo had other projects that previously premiered in other Vancouver festivals, he described “Stay” as special, being the first to be screened in person since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The short film is top-billed by renowned Canadian drag queen Kendall Gender.
“After all these long, long years of creating this story and making this film,” Palomo shared, “para sa akin, ang pinaka-importanteng aspect ng filmmaking is to see the audience reaction.”
“Stay” tells the story of a touring drag queen who finds herself falling for a young artist.
Palomo said that while the story of finding love is universal, he wanted a film that shows love through the eyes of a gay couple.
“I want the audience to see two gay people falling in love without having a problem or having an issue,” he added. “On how we love, who we love and who we are as a person.”
Ken Wyse, whose drag persona is “Kendall Gender,” was cast as the film’s main character “Caleb” before Canada ordered a lockdown due to COVID-19.
He shared how he could relate to some of Caleb’s experiences in the film.
“There's a lot of scenes that I have actually been in those situations before,” Wyse said. “I remember them very specifically. So it was obviously playing a character to an extent but definitely things that I've been through as a person.”
The filmmakers have stressed the importance of “Stay” being included in the festival.
“If you go back to the Philippines, the gay community is still not accepted,” Palomo said. “There’s progress but still, we’re not there. It’s normal for us to fall in love and it doesn’t matter who we love. At the end of the day, it’s love and acceptance.”
Palomo and his co-writer Stephanie Cardona hope to be able to turn “Stay” into a full-length feature film in the future.