Interview with Festival Director Miguel Sevilla (CINEMATOGRAFO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL)

The CINEMATOGRAFO Originals Contest gives voices to emerging Filipino filmmakers from around the world. It is an annual competition that provides seed grants worth up to $100,000 for full-length features, either documentary or narrative.

Matthew Tofolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Miguel Sevilla: Our festival centers in on a new generation of Filipino-American filmmakers who offer a different perspective owing to their different upbringing and experiences. Our festival aims to showcase this new generation and put them on the world stage, along with the best of the world.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

Attendees can expect to experience new visions, new perspectives and new stories from a generation of storytellers that are part of the Filipino diaspora. Filipinos are one of the most migrant populations in the world and can be found in all corners of the world where they thrive in any industry.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

As mentioned, we are looking for stories from the Filipino diaspora. The themes and genre may vary but what is important is that the filmmaker is part of the migrant Filipino generation, growing up and experiencing a different kind of life abroad from other Filipinos.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of niche film festivals launch alongside the major festivals. While the big ones showcase the elite art house content, that’s not to say that there is no market for films with a unifying theme or specialized content. The reality is that you can only program so much into a festival, and every film can’t be in Cannes or Sundance. But it’s a big world, a diverse world – and so are the stories in it. And as long as there is interest, there will be an audience. And festivals offer that platform where the audience can find those movies.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Until now, there has been no institution that has given production grants solely to Filipino-American filmmakers. Our team’s passion is fueled by the Filipino’s passion for storytelling, wherever they may be in the world. And it’s about time we put that passion front and center.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Overwhelming. We received four times the number of submissions we expected and thus, are truly grateful for everyone who showed their support for the festival

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

Aside from being the premier Filipino-American film festival, I see the festival branching off into educational, training and technical support for all Filipino filmmakers outside the Philippines. I see the festival as a resource for all storytellers, unifying them into a vibrant community.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Chinatown by Roman Polanski

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

More than escapism, any film that makes you consider a point of view that you never had before and conveys empathy for a character that is truly opposite from who you are is most likely a great film.

How is the film scene in your city?

Incredibly diverse. The Bay Area is a melting pot for different cultures and the interests of moviegoers vary to a great degree.




Interviewee Miguel Sevilla. Screenwriter, novelist and filmmaker, born and raised in the Philippines. Now based in California. Made directorial debut in 2008 with Cul de Sac. Nominated for FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) in 2010.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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