Respect, sibling rivalry and a pair of sneakers in ‘Kuya Ko’

Dean Banting

A short film about respect, two Filipino brothers and a pair of sneakers will be shown October 20 at the Bayanihan Filipino Community Center in Woodside, Queens.

Written and directed by emerging filmmaker Dean Banting, the film was his senior thesis at The City College of New York in June 2011.

“Kuya Ko” — “My Big Brother” in English — is the story of a bullied FilAm teenager who must come to terms with the arrival of his older brother from the Philippines. The older brother or ‘kuya’ seems to take all the attention away from their single mother, Nena. Aside from her, the only other connection that the brothers share is a love for basketball. As the brothers go on a journey, they struggle to overcome cultural differences, financial hardships, and violence in the neighborhood to understand the meaning of sibling-hood and family.

The screening will introduce the work of Filipino American artists to the Filipino migrant community, said Jonna Baldres, community action coordinator at Philippine Forum, which is co-organizing the film showing with Anakbayan NY.

“We see the importance of supporting promising Filipino talent. By encouraging them to continually develop their art, we can reinforce positive attributes towards the community,” she said.

Matthew Cheirs, chairperson of Anakbayan NY, added, “We need to show the community that Filipinos and Filipino Americans exist in contemporary art forms like film and acting and writing. Historically, we’ve been known to pursue careers in the medical field as nurses. So, promoting the arts adds another dimension to Filipino culture that needs exposure.”

Banting said the film drew inspiration from his own story, and how he – an older brother — realized the need to be a role model.

“Kuya Ko” received Honorable Mention for Best Ensemble Cast in a Short Film at the Spring 2012 Asians on Film Festival, and was awarded Best Story at the 2011 CCNY BFA Thesis Film Festival.

The cast features Jaril Clemente, Kayze Bautista, and May Viejon, supported by Marcos Sotomayor, Jarrett Manigault and Brian Reese. Admission to the screening is $10.00. For more information, contact Jonna Baldres at 646-578-7390 or Matthew Cheirs at 917-601-0378.

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