It’s November, and the Cinematografo International Film Festival will be going up in San Francisco. An annual event aiming to showcase international filmmakers while highlighting the importance of representation and inclusivity, Cinematografo also has a key initiative for providing filmmakers with financial support.
On the festival’s last day, Sunday November 11, a panel called Rewriting HERstory will take place at 2:30PM. It will be an in-depth discussion about women of color in the film industry, focusing on industry changes over this past year, namely how previously hidden or silenced stories have been coming into light. The panelists will include Diane Paragas, Jess dela Merced, and Zorinah Juan.
Juan’s feature film directorial debut, “When We Grow Up”, will screen right before the panel, at 1PM. A suburban family drama observed through a multicultural lens, WWGU tells the story of a family reunited for a weekend surrounding the death and funeral of their beloved dog. Juan, who is Filipino-American, directed the film with an entirely female crew, and an eye toward diversity and inclusion:
“Like many people of color, growing up I did not see a lot of folks who looked like me, my family, or many of my friends on TV, film, or other forms of media. If I did, they were mostly inaccurate depictions,” said Juan. “This movie portrays what many American families look like yet are so rarely seen as. What I love about America is that the traditional family unit actually does look multicultural in so many places — whether that’s through marriage, adoption, or other circumstances, the American family portrait looks a lot like the Barnes family [in the movie]. We just aren’t used to seeing that at the movies or on television. I think this film gives families that do look like this a chance to see themselves on screen in a beautiful light.”
Speaking on how the film industry can stand to evolve overall, Juan added, “If more of the big decision-makers in the film industry would be courageous enough to hire more female storytellers and storytellers of color, they’d be pleasantly surprised by just how many unique ways of telling a story exist that we have yet to experience.”
That said, Juan’s career ambitions transcend her work’s natural tie to her cultural background and perspective: “I hope to create a long, beautiful, meaningful body of work that when people look back at it, the first thing they think is, ‘What an incredible and sincere artist’ and the fact that I am a woman of color is second to my life’s accomplishments.”
The Cinematografo International Film Festival will be held at AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8, 1881 Post St. in San Francisco between November 8 and 11, 2018. More details can be found here: https://cinematografofilmfestival.com/