Amerasians’ struggle screens June 8 at Hoboken filmfest

“Left by the Ship” follows four Filipino Amerasians — children of U.S. servicemen and Filipina sex workers — as they struggle against social stigma, family problems and identity-related issues.

Filmed 18 years after the pullout of the U.S. bases, the documentary will screen June 8 at 10 p.m. at the Cedar Lane Cinemas in Teaneck, New Jersey. It is showing in the Hoboken International Film Festival.

Italian filmmakers Emma Rossi Landi and Alberto Vendemmiati followed four Amerasian youngsters Margarita, Charlene, Robert and RJ who live a hard life around Subic, the former U.S. naval base. They spent two years with the subjects. The result is a rich collection of scenes which intimately portrays the sense of loss that Filipino Amerasians carry within themselves their whole life.

“They live in poverty and cannot escape their plight, because they carry their parents’ history written on their faces. They are the Amerasian children who were left behind,” said the filmmakers.

Unlike Amerasians from countries like Vietnam, Korea, Thailand or Laos, Filipino Amerasians were never recognized by the U.S. government.

“There is no official explanation,” said Emma, “but many say that it is because the Philippines was not a war zone, and Filipino Amerasians are better off than their Vietnamese, Korean or Thai counterparts.”

Yet, Amerasians in the Philippines suffer a great amount of discrimination, especially the sons and daughters of African American servicemen. “Left by the Ship” explores identity-related issues as the children try to overcome a past they are in no way responsible for.

Directors Emma and Alberto have been making documentaries for more than 10 years. Emma, an Italian-American dual citizen, studied history of cinema at the University of Rome, and then moved on to obtain a diploma in filmmaking at the London Film School in 1998.

Alberto is a graduate of the University of Bologna (Theatre, Cinema and Communication Department) and of Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, specializing in film directing. The pair worked on numerous fiction films, but they are now focusing on documentary filmmaking.





“We are so happy to have the opportunity to screen our film here as we know there is a large FilAm community in New Jersey,” Emma told The FilAm. “We hope many people will be able to attend.”

“Left by the Ship” aims to shed light on the injustice suffered by an underrepresented community, to provoke thought about how global policies can affect innocent people all the way down into the depth of their souls, and ask universal questions about family and personal relationships, according to a statement.

The film won the Jason Mak Award for Best Social Justice Film at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival in Oregon. It is slated to screen July 9 at the Artivist Film Festival in Hollywood.

View the trailer here.

One Comment

  1. Bella P. Burgos wrote:

    Good post, FilAm! Let’s have more of this social-justice genre for our readers.

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