Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
Immersing us in a child’s whimsical world with aesthetics as quirky and charming as Wes Anderson’s, Shireen Seno’s delicate second feature is set in a Manila bungalow bursting with artifacts of 80s nostalgia. Here, eight-year-old Yael cooks up miniature meals with dinky utensils from her dollhouse kitchen and keeps a touching secret relating to her dad, an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in the Middle East. As her mom pines for her absent husband, her own deprivation sours her affection for Yael in a way that’s acutely observed and painful to watch. A Christmas reunion with Yael’s uncle, who is living comfortably with his family in Japan, brings warmth, envy, longing and confusion to a giddy head.
Raised in Japan by OFW parents, Seno captures the heartaches of the Filipino diaspora through the eyes of a lonely child, who nervously feels her way around the adult world, including the political environment after the fall of Marcos dictatorship, After competing at Rotterdam, where it won the NETPAC award, this fresh and universally likeable film has been invited to nearly 20 festivals, notably the prestigious New Directors, New Films festival at Lincoln Center in New York.
"A fragile, well-made and engaging film ideal for festivals searching for non-distancing Asian fare."—Jay Weissberg, Variety