When Ibrahim, an undocumented Filipino Muslim caregiver who dreams of becoming a drag queen, accidentally kills his patient - Zenaida, his fear of being deported leads him to keep her death a secret.
Ibrahim is an undocumented gay, Filipino Muslim who was banished from his hometown in the Philippines for his sexuality. With his new life in Los Angeles, he can now pursue his dreams of becoming a drag queen. By day, he works as an in-house caregiver for Zenaida - an aging, glamorous, and temperamental Filipina diva who suffers from early signs of dementia. At night, he struggles to find the right persona for his drag act. Ibrahim and Zenaida form a deep friendship as they find solace in each other’s company and their inability to let go of their past. Ibrahim’s world comes crashing down when he accidentally causes Zenaida to fall to her death. In fear of being deported, Ibrahim keeps Zenaida’s death a secret. He is left with no choice but to deal with the consequences of his decision.
As a filmmaker of color, I always make it a point to give a voice to the underrepresented, whenever I can. Being a Filipina immigrant in America, I am very much drawn to stories of the Filipinx diaspora. With the rise of anti-immigration and the crackdown on undocumented immigrants, I want to shed a light on the experiences of undocumented Filipinx in America. Undocumented Filipinx have limited job options and no job security. Oftentimes, they end up working as caregivers. The personal experiences of people I know have inspired this particular story of Ibrahim - an undocumented caregiver who is gay, Filipino, and Muslim.
When I was growing up in the Philippines, I was surrounded by talented artists who were larger than life. They also happened to be part of the LGBTQIA community. They were the artists who inspired me to pursue a career in the arts. They came in many forms - fashion designers, painters, filmmakers, theater directors, actors, dancers, and writers. They have now become my mentors, friends, and family. Queer culture has always had a strong influence on my work. There are a lot of people in my life who are part of the LGBTQIA community. This story, in particular, explores the gay experience and drag culture.
We live in a time where Trump and his message of hate and intolerance have become the norm. Racism, xenophobia, and homophobia are back with a vengeance. Anti-immigration and anti-Islam sentiments are stronger than ever, not just in America, but all over the world. Now, more than ever, this story needs to be told.
This film shows an insight into Filipino culture. It gives the audience access to the Filipinx diaspora that I have become part of. Filipinos are resilient, emotional, and warm-hearted people. We are romantics at heart who have a penchant for the dramatic. We tend to find humor even in the direst circumstances. Amidst adversity, we choose to keep going, through hope, laughter, and the celebration of life.
Ultimately, this is a story about survivors and dreamers. It is about the human spirit’s resilience in pursuit of a dream and a better life. It is also about letting go of your past, embracing your new life, and having the courage to be who you truly are.
AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE CONSERVATORY
At the world-renowned AFI Conservatory, a dedicated group of working professionals from the film and television communities serve as mentors in a hands-on, production-based environment nurturing the talents of tomorrow's storytellers. The Conservatory is consistently recognized as one of the world’s top film schools. Established in 1969, the two-year Master of Fine Arts program provides training in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. With an emphasis on narrative visual storytelling and personal expression, each class breaks into teams that mirror a real production environment. Those teams collaborate on and produce more films than any other graduate level film program.
AFI alumni continually celebrate critical recognition, including recent wins at the Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Tony Awards as well as Grand Prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. Notable alumni include Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Queen & Slim), Rachel Morrison (Black Panther, Mudbound), David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive), Steve Golin (Spotlight, The Revenant), Darren Aronofsky (Mother!, Black Swan), Terrence Malick (Badlands, The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line), Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, American Honey) and Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster)
All funds will be spent on the following:
Fabrication of costumes and props
Special hair styling and makeup
Props rental and set decoration
Purchase of 16mm film stock
Catering and craft services
Film processing and digital scanning
Licensing music copyright
Original music score
Original music recording
The American Film Institute is a Government recognized 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization, and holds tax exempt status. Donations made toward ZENAIDA may be tax deductible under Section 170 of the U.S. Tax Code. A letter of acknowledgement from AFI will be sent for all contributions.
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