What are you currently working on project wise?
So many things! My main focus right now is my upcoming feature, LUZON, which is the story of a mother and daughter who are outsiders to each other, and the enigmatic clash of cultures that erupts between them upon returning to their ancestral homeland. This is a very personal story for me--I mean, this is basically the story of my relationship to my mother, who is from the Philippines (I was born in the US). The film is a way for me to explore and appreciate my heritage in way that I never thought I would--until I decided to turn it into a creative project. I started learning Tagalog as part of my research for the film. I can’t believe it took me this long to learn the language! I realized I was about to turn 30 and although I speak three languages, none of them were my mother’s language. I suddenly became very ashamed.
I grew up being very dismissive of Filipino culture and history. For some reason it seemed unglamorous to me. As a child, I had always fetishized French and other European cultures, even Chinese and east Asian cultures--basically anything before my own. It finally dawned on me that it was about time I harness the power of my ancestors, by engaging with them instead of pretending like being Filipino was something I should diminish. I started to approach the culture and tradition with curiosity instead of disregard, and this was very inspiring. Transformative.
I’m also working on countless other little experiments and side projects...
How much of your work is a collaboration?
What challenges do you face with making films/starting projects?
My own inability to think creatively to solve a problem.
What, person, place or thing currently inspires you?
Havemeyer Park. Tangible proof that if you build it, they will come.
Oh and there’s a new man in my life. A space angel who makes me smile.
What kind of music are you currently listening to?
What would be your "ideal" way of working and creating?
I am fortunate enough to work and create with all 5 of my senses intact. That’s pretty ideal, don’t you think?
How do you feel about living as an artist in New York City?
I feel as if I am in a constant state of arousal.
What's your feeling regarding the general state of culture within the film world these days?
I’ve noticed a lot of American filmmakers rushing to institutionalize themselves - to win legitimacy from whatever establishment they can. They get to earn a living as commercial artists, but at the expense of the quality of their art. A lot of my friends are struggling to find a balance between the two.
The American Internet is beginning to model itself after Hollywood in the same way Ancient Rome imitated Ancient Athens. Soon, it too will fall, and we will regress into a new kind of dark ages. One in which those who have kept the culture alive will be called upon to nourish and protect our brothers and sisters. Whatever culture survives will be as a result of decentralized, peer-to-peer sharing. Not as a result of the authority of some large monolithic institution.
To give an example: think about mixtapes. Who makes the best mixtapes? Is it a record label or agency? No! Is it your lover, your sister, or your best friend? Yes! Human beings are the ones who preserve and transmit culture, not institutions or organizations.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from the work of my favorite filmmakers, it’s that pandering to the establishment is antithetical to the creative process. We must find the courage to create without the money, the recognition, the approval of some outside force!
What do you find most romantic?
The visceral elegance of reciprocal eye contact. Honorable mention: poetry (whispered closely in the ear).
What's your favorite ice cream flavor?