Film by Filipina director wins top prize at Bentonville Film Festival in US

Lingua Franca, a film by New York-based Filipina director Isabel Sandoval, took home the top prize at the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival.

The film won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature at the festival, which ran from August 10 to 16 in the US through a mix of virtual and limited on ground screenings.

Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, a Filipina trans woman and undocumented immigrant working as a caregiver in Brooklyn. As she struggles to secure a green card from an American man she is paying off, she falls in love with a slaughterhouse worker named Alex.

Isabel directed and wrote the film, as well as starred in it alongside Eamon Farren (Twin Peaks: The Return), Lev Gorn (The Americans), and Lynn Cohen (The Hunger Games).

It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August 2019, and has competed in festivals including the British Film Institute London Film Festival, and the Busan International Film Festival.

The film is Isabel's third feature film. Señorita (2011) premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, and won her the Emerging Director Award at the 2012 Asian-American International Film Festival. Apparition (2012) starred Jodi Sta. Maria and Mylene Dizon, and also won several awards in international competitions.

The Bentonvillle Film Festival was co-founded by Academy Award winner Geena Davis, and focuses on highlighting stories told by underrepresented voices in entertainment, including women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and people with disabilities. –