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Lingua Franca Is Finally Landing On Our Shores
Lingua Franca Is Finally Landing On Our Shores
Entertainment | November 6, 2020
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Fresh from winning the top prize as Best Narrative Feature last August at the Bentonville Film Festival, and a couple more successful rounds around the globe in 2019 and early 2020, it is about time that we marvel at the masterpiece that is Lingua Franca here in the Philippines.

This is directed by Isabel Sandoval, who made history by being the first openly trans woman of color to compete at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival Venice Days program. Isabel also took on the lead role as Olivia, an undocumented caregiver in Brighton, New York, who will be caught up in a complex romantic relationship with Russian-Jewish homophobic slaughterhouse worker Alex (Eamon Farren) who does not know she is trans but falls in love with her. 

Since its debut in 2019 and release on Netflix US and Canada last August, rave reviews have been popping up from the most sought after critics. David Fear of Rolling Stone called it “an affecting film” and added that “Olivia is played with extraordinary understatement by Isabel Sandoval.” Stephanie Zacharek of Time magazine raved, saying, “Lingua Franca is a gorgeous and delicate picture, with Sandoval radiating luminous warmth as Olivia.” 

Lingua Franca’s multi-awarded producer, Jhett Tolentino

We had a chat with Lingua Franca’s producer, Tony and Grammy award winner Jhett Tolentino. He says that though their hearts are full from all the great reviews their film has been getting, showcasing it in the Philippines is something much more special. He hopes that the audience can look past the gender, “I hope that when Pinoys watch it in the Philippines, that they could somehow put on a blindfold on gender because we are trying to highlight a different kind of love. Love is love however you put it. But here it’s portrayed by a transwoman and a very homophobic Russian immigrant.” Jhett also wants the audience to have a reflective take on the conflict of the character of Alex, “His personal conflict is that, whether he is in love with her as a woman or he is questioning his sexuality because he is falling in love with someone who used to be a man.” 

Besides the love story, the conflict in the film is equally riveting as Isabel, Jhett, and their team highlight LGBTQIA+ rights that have not been addressed yet in our country, “I have so many trans friends here in the United States, to me it puts in a dagger in my heart because of their predicament that they cannot be dual citizens because the Philippines does not recognize trans people so if they want to have a Philippine passport, they will have to go back to their birth names meaning their male names and that is highlighted in the film so for me, that is also the characterization for the lawmakers in the Philippines to pay attention to.”

TBA Studios acquired the rights to Lingua Franca locally, and it will be available on their streaming platform http://cinema76fs.eventive.org/ this November 20.

Lingua Franca will be available through the link on November 20.

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