Brocka nephew curious about famous uncle as he reconnects with abusive dad’s PH roots
Like him, I’m also queer and tell queer stories,” said Q. Allan Brocka, who, unfortunately, never got to meet his uncle Lino, the late national artist for Film. The younger filmmaker, who was born in Guam, returned home recently to “discover what other connections I might have here.”
“Growing up, this is also one of the things that I never felt I had a connection to. I had heard that I had an uncle who was a filmmaker in the Philippines, and that was it. Every now and then, when I meet Filipinos in the States, they’d say, ‘Are you related to Lino Brocka?’ and I’d say, ‘Yes, but I don’t know him.’ So I started to watch his films in college and was amazed to find out that not only was he a phenomenal filmmaker, he was also queer and told queer stories, like me! I have this amazing role model in my blood, but I was never able to get to know him,” he told Inquirer Entertainment over dinner recently.
The US-based director was in Manila recently to do preproduction work for his latest film, “Love and Lockdown,” which he will start shooting in April.
Allan first came to Manila in 2004 for the Pink Film Festival, where his movie, “Eating Out,” was screened. He recalled how there was a long line of people wanting to talk to him during one of the screenings. “They all wanted to talk to me, not because of me or my film, but because of him,” he continued. “I know that he has an enormous legacy and following. This is actually intimidating. One man was crying because he said he was in jail with my uncle. I want to learn more about him. I feel that he is also part of my history.”
Allan said that one of the things he intended to do with “Love and Lockdown” was to get actors who worked with Lino “and see what it was like with him on the set, to learn from him, at least, through these artists.”
In “Love and Lockdown,” a Canadian trans man reluctantly returns to the Philippines with his British-Indian girlfriend for a quick trip to correct his passport. The COVID-19 lockdown traps them in the small village where he was born, meaning he must confront his family, his past, his relationship—and himself.
“My whole life, I’ve been wanting to make a film and shoot it here. I wanted to make one here and also in Guam, where I was born, but it’s hard enough to get funding even in the US, so it took years. Finally, a script came through that I felt was good and we came up with some funding for it, and so we’re doing it,” Allan began.
The script is by London-based writer Joanna Benecke, but the idea for it came from a true story, which happened to one of their common friends, said Allan. “The producers gave me the script to see if I was interested in directing it. The script originally took place in Colombia. I said I’m not from Colombia so I don’t know if I’m the right fit, but the story stuck with me.
“I kept thinking of his journey and how it paralleled my own relationship with the Philippines. I put together a pitch deck, resetting the whole story in the Philippines and sent it to our producers. They loved the idea, had the script rewritten, raised the money from the script and my pitch deck, and now we’re here.”
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The story is about coming home and reconnecting, explained Allan. “The lead character, Danny, discovers that he really did miss all his relatives who were supportive of him during his childhood, and that he is now remembering all the good things about the Philippines, which he used to associate with all the trauma he experienced. By the end, he realizes that he loves it here and may consider staying,” he added.
Allan then explained why Danny’s story runs parallel to his. “My father was Filipino. He was very abusive both to me and my mother. He died when I was 12. Because of that, I lost my connection with my family here. By making this film, I’m also going on this journey and meeting people who knew my father. I want to know the other side of him. I had only seen him most of my life as a villain. He did terrible things to me and my mother. He even sent me to the hospital when I was 7, but I think there’s a lot more to learn about him here.”
Casting for Danny, who Allan insisted should be a real-life trans man, is ongoing. “I don’t want to give a role like this to someone who hasn’t lived the experience,” he pointed out. “It’s an opportunity, and trans men don’t have opportunities like this very often.”
Asked what he hoped to achieve personally with the film, Allan said: “I would like to highlight Filipino talent, not just in front, but behind the cameras as well. I also want to highlight the Philippines as a location. I think not enough are shooting films here. If they are, they’re shooting here and pretending it’s another country. I want the country to have more of an international presence.
“It’s also important for me that this is a joyous and uplifting film about a trans man falling in love. There are very few stories about trans men, and the ones that are available tend to be very depressing and dark, but that’s not all there is to this kind of life.
“I want all the trans men in the world to see themselves being reflected in an uplifting way. Even those who are not trans, I want them to root for the guy in the end. I want them to cheer for the trans man when he kisses the girl and the cameras start swirling around them. I don’t think this has happened in films yet.” INQ