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Fil-Canadian producer's film picked for Toronto Int'l Film Festival's talent program

Jocelyn Reyes-Sambilay | TFC News Toronto

Posted at Sep 19 2023 05:20 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2023 05:31 PM

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This year's Toronto International Film Festival is special for Filipino-Canadian Enrique Miguel Baniqued.

The first-ever film he produced "Village Keeper" has been selected for the TIFF Every Story Accelerator Program.

The said program, presented by the Royal Bank of Canada's Screen Creators Initiative, aims to advance the projects of emerging filmmakers from diverse backgrounds.

“Village Keeper” is written and directed by the award-winning director Karen Chapman. It tells the story of a mother’s unwavering sacrifice for her family.

"You know, mothers give everything away," said Chapman. "And so she learns to just keep a little bit for herself. Because if you pour everything out of your cup, you don't have anything left for yourself."

Banigued shared that his venture into film was an unexpected turn in his career.

He graduated entrepreneurship in De La Salle University and came to Canada in 2019 as an international student to study lifestyle media.

While the coronavirus pandemic disrupted his plans, Baniqued found a new opportunity in the film industry.

"I had no idea how big the film industry was here," he said. "When I first moved, I had no idea what TIFF was. I just found a way to get myself in there and find work and then yeah, now I'm here."

Like Baniqued, Yap Sabangan is a former ABS-CBN producer who came to Canada as an international student.

Now a line producer of "Village Keeper," she shared her knowledge and production experience to the team.

"I feel a sense of pride being among those who represent Filipinos in this Canadian film," said Sabangan. "It's an honor for me to do a multicultural collaboration."

"Village Keeper" will premiere next year after it recently concluded production.

Baniqued's mother expressed her family’s support for the  accomplishments of her son.

"I was really happy about it," said Claudette Baniqued. "We're so proud of him but we always remind him to keep his faith and be thankful for whatever blessings that he has right now."

Baniqued said he will continue to amplify the voices of the unheard and the underrepresented sectors in society through his work.

"My main goal as a film producer is to create Filipino films," added. "But at the end of the day, I also want to make entertaining stories. To me it doesn't matter what genre it is right now. It just has to entertain."