Lingua Franca is about an undocumented Filipina trans woman who falls in love with a working-class Russian-Jewish man in Coney Island.
There has been a lot of talk about the gap in visibility and representation of minorities in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood. While there is some action, we still have a lot of work left to go bridge this gap. Our team, led by a writer-director Filipina immigrant, is rolling up their sleeves to bring about concrete, visible and lasting change.
Lingua Franca is a delicate and nuanced immersion in the life of a someone who’s a minority four times over: a transgender woman of color who is also an immigrant. Set in the present day, the film unflinchingly speaks to the sociopolitical anxieties and tensions of our time. A film that boldly challenges the dominant narrative of our current political climate.
Meet The Team
It’s precisely the film’s timeliness and candor that has attracted a notable cast whose credits include films and TV shows such as Twin Peaks: The Return, Master of None, Sex and The City, Orange Is The New Black, and How To Get Away With Murder. These high-profile names – which we will be announcing over the next few weeks – recognize the urgency and necessity of a film like Lingua Franca in the current landscape.
The majority of the producing team are persons of color and proud immigrants, including Academy Award winner Gigi Dement and Tony and Grammy Award-winning Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino. Director Isabel Sandoval has written and directed two dramatic features, including the critically-acclaimed “Apparition”, about cloistered Filipino nuns during the Marcos regime in the 1970s. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has called Sandoval “a rarity among the young generation of Filipino filmmakers.” Her performance in her debut feature "Señorita" was nominated for Best Performance by the leading critics' group in the Philippines, aside from a Best Picture citation. "Señorita" had its world premiere in competition at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.
It is one thing to point out the flaws and shortcomings of a system, and waiting for Hollywood to change can be an exercise in futility. But instead of waiting for the powers that be, we have to take action. These are our stories to tell and our narratives to write. We don't have to sit and wait for someone to tell them for us.
The most important thing to realize is that we do have the power, in our own hands, to affect change. We can show Hollywood that there is a need and demand to tell stories like Lingua Franca, that the voices and lives it illuminates are worthy and vital, and that people will demand to see these stories unfold on the big screen.
We will bridge this gap, by creating connections. The best way to create these connections is to tell stories. Stories that reflect the genuine and real life struggles of a diverse people. This is how we will connect with each other.
Even if only one person that can relate to Lingua Franca, as an immigrant or as a person of color, sees it and feels empowered to tell their own stories and help bring about change, the effort will have been worth it.
We hope to share these stories with the Kickstarter community to send a message to Hollywood that we must be heard.
Gigi Dement: Gigi Dement is the first Filipina to produce an Academy-Award Winning film, God of Love, she has gone on to win a number of award-winning films. She's Most recently, she has been exploring the world of new media, producing for Conde Nast Entertainment and their associated brands the likes of which include Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Teen Vogue, GQ and Bon Appetit. In addition, she has produced digital content for Target x WhoWhatWear, Canon, Lexus, Sephora, Anna Sui and YouTube. Gigi is a double alumna of New York University's undergraduate and graduate film programs, where she currently holds a faculty position. Gigi has a personal goal of telling real stories; stories of voices that are unheard. She loves working with her students and often lends her expertise and time to help others share their stories.
Carlo Velayo: Carlo is the inaugural recipient of the SFFILM New American Producer Fellowship, which supports the work of an independent producer who has recently immigrated to the United States. Carlo is a p.g.a Producer on Jessica M. Thompson's narrative "The Light of the Moon," which received the 2017 SXSW Audience Award for Narrative Feature Competition as well as the Women Film Critics Circle's Adrienne Shelly Award, for the film that most passionately opposes violence against women. Carlo seeks creative collaborations with minority-majority cast and crews on projects that explore issues facing immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community, hence his passion for "Lingua Franca."
Darlene Malimas: Darlene intends to devote her waking life to elevating the Filipino narrative in reel and real life. She has worked professionally and personally with the humanitarian arm, Operation Blessing in the Philippines which aims to empower the far-flung impoverished Filipino communities. She has also contributed to film-related ventures (e.g. Indiobravo Film Foundation, Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Asia Society) in the hope of giving more platforms to truly original pinoy voices and stories."
Jhett Tolentino: Jhett is a three-time Tony Award and a Grammy Award-winning producer based in New York City. He is slowly transitioning from theater to film with his debut short documentary "Life Is What You Make It". Jhett balances life with philanthropic work at Meguko Foundation International where he is the Founding Chairman and President, a foundation that will provide high and college scholarships to those less fortunate starting in the Philippines in 2019.
Cecilia Mejia: Cecilia Mejia has worked in development for several nonprofit organizations, including NGOs affiliated with the UN. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and Affairs. She’s worked with several grassroots organizations focusing on underrepresented communities, which lead to her working on a short documentary about the struggles of detained undocumented families, which jumpstarted her film career. She's produced a few short films focusing on social justice issues like mental health and gender inequality. She is in development for a number of projects, working on the creative, funding and social impact components of films. Inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk: The danger of a single story and by her own experiences in finding her voice, Cecilia is combining her love of film with the goal of focusing on social impact stories that inspire change, most specifically with under-resourced youth through her organization Art of Me.
Richard Kim: Richard Kim is an independent creative producer who produces and collaborates on domestic and international films. Richard produced the feature film Moko Jumbie which had its world premiere in the World Fiction competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF). Shot in Trinidad, Moko Jumbie received the Film Independent Canon Filmmaker Award in addition to grants from the Bahamas International Film Festival and NYU. Richard's producing efforts are informed by his support of nonprofits and progressive causes. He seeks to highlight untold stories and raise awareness of the overlooked. Richard was a Board member of Project by Project NY and a volunteer consultant for the Scenarios USA, the Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn, and Town Square Inc., all 501(c)3 nonprofits.
To thank you for your generosity, we have collected and curated some fantastic incentives to start – be the first to reserve and enjoy them!
- The streaming link to the theatrical version of LINGUA FRANCA
- Thank You Credits
- The Fan Pack level, as well as a Kickstarter-exclusive poster
- A peak behind the scenes: set visits, read throughs, lunch with the producers, even have a character named after you!
- and more!
Lingua Franca is a term used to describe bridge languages, ones that connect us with each other.
Let's close this gap, let's tell these stories, let’s make Lingua Franca together.
How You Can Help
1. Back the Project: Kickstarter is all or nothing – if we don't make our goal, we get nothing.
2. Spread the Word: Even if you can't donate, sharing the link with your family and friends does a world of difference in getting more people to contribute.
4. Connect With Us: If you have any questions (or would like to contact us for press), send us an e-mail at email@example.com!
Risks and challenges
With the generosity of several supporters from all over the world, we will soon begin pre-production, making offers to essential cast members, working with our creative team, finalizing the script, locking in locations, and setting dates. We’ve been meeting and planning this film for over a year now, so we feel well-prepared.
With your help we will be closer to production. Together this team has brought a number of important and timely films of untold stories to life.
With your support, we will make a terrific film written by a talented filmmaker.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)