San Jose film fest focuses on justice-oriented works

SAN JOSE, California—The third annual Third World Independent Film Festival (TWIFF), which showcases independent films that explore social issues around the world, is taking place mid-September with three Filipino films among the entries.

TWIFF encourages filmmakers from all countries to submit their work not only for awards they could win, but also to disseminate crucial information about injustices their people undergo.

This year’s festival will be held on Sept. 19-22, commencing with an exclusive red-carpet event in Milpitas to welcome the visiting directors, producers and actors who have traveled to support their film.

“What is special about TWIFF is that people get to view movies that they normally would not have access to,” volunteer coordinator Micah de la Cruz explained. “The movies are either foreign, independent, sometimes it is the first feature somebody has made; sometimes it is all of the above.”

The films will be screened at the Century Theaters in Fremont.

“I initially volunteered for TWIFF because it seemed like it would be a good experience and personally fulfilling,” De la Cruz said.

“The most rewarding part of this festival is getting to meet some of the best talents in the world of filmmaking,” said co-founder Gracie Suzara, who also heads up TWIFF administration.

“It is important to showcase the struggles of other countries because we get to bring Third World issues and introduce them to the First World audience,” Suzara added.

The past three years have seen so many films inspiring stories, according to Suzara, who urged the many independent filmmakers in the Philippines to submit their work to TWIFF “to compete on a global scale.”

Filipino filmmaker Mona Lisa Yuchengco will present “Marilou Diaz Abaya – Filmmaker on a Voyage,” a touching documentary on the life of the famous film artist/activist who died of cancer. The film will be screened on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 3-4:20 p.m. with a question-and-answer portion afterwards.

The 30-minute short film “Johnny Loves Dolores” examines the Filipino migrants’ experience and the loneliness they face while living and working abroad. This will be shown on Friday, Sept. 20, at 3:10-3:40 p.m., Saturday at 1:20-1:50 p.m., and Sunday at 5:15-5:45 p.m.  After the Friday screening, there will be a two-minute question-and-answer segment.

“Alagwa/Breakaway,” directed by Ian Lorenos, highlights the issue of human trafficking.

“The film is based on an infamous urban legend in Chinatown, Manila, back in the 1990s,” Lorenos said. “But the idea hit me when I was stressed out from shooting my first feature film. While walking in Chinatown, Manila, I saw a photo of a missing boy on a grubby wall. When I got home, it didn’t get away from my mind. And so I decided to make a film about it.”

The screenings of “Alagwa” are on Friday at 4-5:30 p.m., 6-7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 10-11:30 a.m., 8:20-10 p.m.; and Sunday at 1:25 -2:55 p.m., 5:45-7:15 p.m.

Film schedules, trailers and additional information can be found on the TWIFF blog at


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