Three Filipina filmmakers at work on sneakerheads comedy

Jess de la Merced

Hypebeasts,” a movie about a Filipino collector of first edition, top-of-the-line sneakers, is a thesis project by NYU film student Jess dela Merced. Gigi Dement of the Oscar-winning short film “God of Love” and Marissa Aroy, who received an Emmy for the documentary “Sikhs in America,” are co-producing the film.

With touches of comedy, “Hypebeasts” is a tense, dramatic story that “casts an unrelenting eye on the uncomfortable issues of racism, consumerism, and capitalism in America,” according to movie’s website.

Here’s a synopsis: “Air Jordan XXIV, the most coveted new sneaker, goes on sale at 8 a.m. Sneakerheads across the country are camping out overnight to get them. Ronny, a young Filipino American and diehard sneakerhead, has been dreaming of these shoes for months, but his quest to get in line is hindered when a fast-food cashier’s racist joke offends his sister, Justine. Ronny’s night takes a turn for the worst when, after choosing to ignore the slur, he is cut in the sneaker line by the same cashier. Racial tensions among the sneakerheads intensify when Ronny decides to finally speak up.”

De la Merced said she has been studying the sneakerheads culture since February. The film begins production in October, but needs funding in the amount of $40,000. “We’re a long way off financially. We need to pay crew and cast,” she said in a video message.

Spike Lee is a writing advisor, and Jill Zarin of the “Real Housewives of New York City” will appear as herself, Dement told The FilAm.

About the filmmakers: San Francisco native Jess dela Merced is completing an MFA from the New York University Graduate Film Program where she most recently received the 2012 Spike Lee Fellowship. Last year she was selected for a unique writing internship created by Chris Rock at Comedy Central. Her latest film “Bleached” has won the Comcast Short Film Award, the Best Narrative Short at the DC Asia Pacific American Film Festival, and has been selected for over a dozen festivals.

Gigi Dement

Gigi Dement is a graduate of both NYU’s undergraduate and graduate film programs. She produced several award winning films including “God of Love,” winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. Her feature film “Babygirl” premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Marissa Aroy

Marissa Aroy received an Emmy for the documentary “Sikhs in America,” which she produced and directed. She is in post-production on a PBS program on Filipino American history. In 2008, Aroy directed the educational soap opera series “Grand Café.” She produced and directed “Little Manila” for PBS. In 2011, she was awarded a Fulbright to film a narrative short in the Philippines.

The dark side of consumerism behind these pairs of sneakers


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Enjoyed read about young Filipino American filmmakers and their upcoming film project in the making.

  2. Paul V wrote:

    The overall look of your website is excellent, as neat as the content material.

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