Fil-Am Isabel Sandoval's 'Lingua Franca' screens at Tribeca Film Fest

Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 09 2019 06:18 PM

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NEW YORK -- A Filipino-American film makes a groundbreaking screening at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival.

"Lingua Franca," an immigration drama set in New York, is written and directed by a real-life transwoman Isabel Sandoval, who also played the lead role of Olivia.

"It’s a dramatic film with slight suspense thriller elements," Sandoval said. 

She said that the film's goal is to not just portray immigrants and transgender people as victims "but as people with dignity and how they are resilient and strong and survive in the crisis that they have to deal with." 

"Lingua Franca" is among the Tribeca Film Institute's selected few to recently screen during the Tribeca Film Festival where filmmakers like Sandoval get to meet and connect with major industry players who can potentially help their projects.

"Tribeca Film Institute supports films especially by minority filmmakers, women, LGBTQ, people of color filmmakers whose projects they think show the most promise and also to play very well in the festival circuit," she said.

With immigrant and transgender rights under attack today, Sandoval's film is making a big mark in history being the first American feature film written, directed by and starring a transgender woman of color who happens to be Filipino.

"A transgender woman of color, a transgender Filipino woman that features Hollywood actors to openly tackle life for immigrants in Trump’s America," she said.

For producer Jhett Tolentino, "any citizen should be able to serve our country, and this movie is a platform, also we’re pushing that envelope that regardless of who you are, where you come from, we are all equal."

Aside from mentorship and professional guidance from the experts at Tribeca Film Institute, selected participants have also been given production grants.

"It helps a lot, because there’s so much to do like even in music licensing, in sound mix, and everything is deferred, and I have to mention our production and costume design is the Tony winner Clint Ramos," Tolentino said.

With a talented cast and award-winning production crew, "Lingua Franca" is hoping to premiere in one of the major film festivals by fall this year.

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