What's next for Fil-Am 'Yellow Rose' filmmaker Diane Paragas?

Yong Chavez, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Oct 06 2020 02:21 PM

This October, another milestone will be reached by Filipinos in Hollywood.

“Yellow Rose,” written and directed by Diane Paragas, will be the first major Filipino-themed movie to be theatrically released by a Hollywood studio, Sony Pictures.
“I think it's a milestone no matter what happens. I think we as a Filipino community should come out and support this film in the same way all Asians came out and supported ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ because I think if the film does well, it shows Hollywood that there is an audience for films like this,” Paragas said.
The Filipino-centered story took a long time before it found its way to the screen.
“I was getting so many no’s and trying to raise money to make this movie. The film evolved over time and I evolved over time. I became a mother. I had my own daughter, who's in the film. I think I had a lot more empathy for the mother character by the time I wrote it,” she said.

“And, of course, in the interim years, we had Trump get elected to office and this very disturbing anti-immigrant sentiment that was sort of pervading our country, and continues today,” she added.

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Set in Texas, “Yellow Rose” shows the struggles of immigrants and those who had to flee the powerful -- an experience that the director’s family is familiar with.
“I grew up in Lubbock, Texas. We went there because my parents were fleeing Martial Law and my dad was helped along by a colleague who petitioned for us, and we ended up in Lubbock, Texas. So that's how I became a Texan. And I was one of the only Filipinos growing up in high school and I always felt a bit out of place like Rose, and I used music as my outlet,” she said.
The movie stars Lea Salonga and Princess Punzalan, with the latest “Miss Saigon” actress Eva Noblezada in the central role.
Its journey to the big screen started with a short film to shop to producers and it initially starred another Filipino singing star, “American Idol” finalist Thia Megia.
Megia co-wrote with Paragas the main theme song “Square Peg” sung by Noblezada in the movie.

“We wrote that song on the first day of rehearsals and it was always my intention for the actors in the cast to write the music,” she said. 

Paragas also has high praises for Punzalan who made her big Hollywood film debut in this movie.
“I'm so excited for people to discover Princess who is known very well in the Philippines. She’s a beautiful human being and an incredible actress who has such depth of feeling,” she said.
“Yellow Rose” has garnered positive reviews and even impressed studios that Paragas is now attached to direct two big Hollywood movies and an ambitious pop opera film that she’s writing set in the Philippines during World War II.