San Diego film festival proceeds to aid victims of Haiyan

'Documented' wins Special Jury Award at the festival

‘Documented’ wins Special Jury Award at the festival

By Cecile Caguingin-Ochoa

The 14th San Diego Asian Film Festival has joined efforts with local fundraising agencies to benefit victims of the recent Haiyan tragedies in the Visayan provinces particularly Tacloban and Samar. The Special Jury Award recipient “Documented,” by director and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, has earmarked most of its earnings to the typhoon victims.

Meanwhile, a special screening of the Philippines’ Oscar entry in 2004 “Crying Ladies” and part of the post- screening of the Asian Film Festival was held on Saturday November 16 where 100 percent of the proceeds will also benefit Typhoon Relief through Gawad Kalinga and Operation Samahan. This was held at the Hazard Center Digiplex Cinemas on Mission Valley. Mark Meily’s ”Crying Ladies” is a genial soap opera about three working-class Manila women who are hired as mourners for a funeral in the city’s Chinese community. It won six awards at the Manila Metro Film Festival.

Hundreds of movie-goers attended “Documented” at the New Central Library at 330 Park Blvd. Two years ago, Filipino American writer Vargas came out as undocumented in the pages of the New York Times Magazine. Since then, he has become a national figure in the immigration reform debate. “Documented” is a controversial look at being American, becoming an activist, and being a son to a mother in the Philippines he hasn’t seen in nearly 20 years. It is Vargas’ film debut.

The screening was sponsored by University of San Diego with additional support by the San Diego Miramar College Diversity/International Education Committee.

Vargas, is a journalist, filmmaker, and immigration activist. He came to the U.S. at the age of 12, oblivious that he didn’t have immigration papers. It was only at age 16, while applying for a driver’s license where he discovered he is an illegal alien.

“Documented” will relive his life saga and his personal effort to promote conversation about the immigration system in the U.S. through the Dream Act. In 2008, he was part of The Washington Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting for their coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings online and in print. Vargas has also worked for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Daily News, and The Huffington Post.

Writing an essay for The New York Times magazine in June 2011, Vargas revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant. It was also his way to advocate for the Dream Act which would help children in similar circumstances have a path to citizenship. Last year, a day after the publication of his Time cover story about his continued uncertainty regarding his status, the Obama administration halted the deportation of undocumented immigrants under age 30. Those eligible will receive work permits. Vargas did not qualify due to his age.

There are seven Philippine entries to the Asian Festival with “Documented,” including “On the Job (Joel Torre),” “The Bit Player (Vilma Santos),” “If Only” (Lovi Poe), ”Norte the End of History” (Sid Lucero), “Big Boy” (Ian Lomongo). One film “Ilo Ilo” is an entry from Singapore which is about an ethnic Chinese family who hires Teresa, a maid from the Philippines, to take care of their son. Many of the films in the festival are also entries to the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

Pacific Arts Movement is the major mover of the 14th San Diego Asian Film Festival in coordination with many local businesses and organizations.

 Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Koronel and Angel Aquino topbill ‘Crying Ladies’

Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Koronel and Angel Aquino topbill ‘Crying Ladies’

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