‘Soho’s the new kid on the block for now’

By Cristina DC Pastor

Film critic and journalist Luis Pedron is co-founder and president of the Soho International Film Festival now on its second year.

TF: I didn’t know the Soho filmfest was founded by Filipinos.
LP: Yeah, the SIFF NYC was founded by Filipinos all: Jorge Ballos, Noli Parumog and me. We decided to create Soho because we feel that we can support other filmmakers who have not been featured in a festival. We wanted to be another venue to feature up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world.

TF: How do you define “independent”?
LP: All films are shot outside the Hollywood studio system and using only digital cameras. Most films are in competition but we also have non-competition films this year featuring indie films from Germany. Since most of the organizers are Filipino Americans, we will always feature Filipino filmmakers, both from the U.S. and from the Philippines. This year we have four feature Philippine films: “Mountain Thief” by Gerry Balasta, “Ganap Na Babae” by Rica Arevalo, Ellen Ramos and Sarah Roxas, “Multo” which I co-directed with Sherwin Morada, and “Tarima” by Neal Tan. “Multo” is a non-competition film.

TF: Do you hope to duplicate the prestige of Cannes or Sundance maybe?
LP: We are enjoying experimenting on different ways of creating a program.
We are learning along the way. I have been covering film festivals as a media interviewer/reviewer. I’ve written about the NY Film Festival, Tribeca and Sundance and Slamdance. I have seen festivals grow and evolve every year. I don’t think there is a right and wrong way of doing it. But the proper way is just being sincere in being supportive to the filmmakers and festival audience. All we can do is to create a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone. We want to remain humble and just be the new kid on the block for awhile.

TF: What film genres do you look for?
LP: I actually enjoy all types of genre. As long as it captures my interest. Believe it or not, this year more than half of entries are documentaries. All of them are interesting because they are issue-based and up to the times in topic. In fact a lot of our featured films this year are documentaries that are very interesting. I chose the ones with controversial topics. I like to choose films that make people think.

Luis interviewing Mia Farrow at Sundance.

TF: Is it expensive to organize a filmfest — in New York?
LP: Yes there is quite an expense involved, but I guess the hardest is to find the audience. But even though marketing is the most challenging part, I enjoy that so much because I have to go to different communities and promote. I have been involved in the Filipino and Asian American communities in New York since 2002. Every year it gets harder and harder, but it is so fulfilling.

TF: Is New York a big market for cinema buffs?
LP: The New York audience is so open to artistic events, including film festivals. New Yorkers, especially during weekends, like to go out at night, have dinner and watch a show. There is that advantage that everyone just takes public transportation, and it’s easier to go to events without thinking of traffic and parking.

TF: Where can filmmakers find you?
LP: Withoutabox.com – which is owned by IMDB.com — is where we get many of our submissions. There are 350,000 registered filmmakers as opposed to just a few hundred registered film festivals around the world. You do the math.

TF: Have you had films that won in the SIFF that turned out to be Hollywood hits? Something approximating the phenomenal success of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which I believe started out indie and then caught the attention of Tom Hanks?
LP: Last year our Opening Night film “Just Like Joe,” directed by Fred Carpenter, won the SIFF audience award. This year Fred Carpenter is invited back again as the Opening Night film. “Jesse,” which stars Hollywood actors Armand Assante, Eric Roberts and William Forsythe, is sold out for the April 15 World Premiere. This year we have a documentary called “Get Real: Wise Women Speak” from director Joni Steele Kimberlin featuring actresses Jane Fonda and Della Reese. Also sold out for April 15.

TF: Have you always been interested in film?
LP: I have an acting degree from the New York School for Film and Television, but I’ve been interested in film even before that. What got me started in the industry was my uncle, Tito Domingo Hornilla Jr., who is comptroller at the Lincoln Center Film Society. He invited me to watch films at the NY Film Festival and encouraged me to write reviews.

Luis Pedron writes for FilmFestivalToday.com. He owns the marketing and event planning company, LFP International Production Inc.

Cristina DC Pastor is the founding editor of The FilAm.


  1. Marden Iglesias wrote:

    All the Best to the SOHO Film Festival! Go go go Luis!

  2. Naida Mariano wrote:

    I am voting for Luis Pedron… You make us proud. Keep up the good work. CHEERS!!!

  3. Luis Pedron,

    Is the 1# Fil-Am promoter of Filipino cultural events in New York City & New Jersey. Nobody worked harder on behalf of the Filipino American community in the New York metro area!

    Luis, I would like to salute you for being a creative force in New York City.

    Very truly yours,

    M. Matthews, Sunnyside, NY

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