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This story came to me after a death in my family lead to the discovery of a crate of paintings stored in a basement. It took about two years of research before I met Maj. Gen Taguba and FilVetRep.org. Then, a picture of the abuse of Imperialist America and its colonial hold over the Philippines came into view.
Writer / Director
Best First-Time Director
GI Film Festival San Diego
When beginning this project, I was acutely aware of the color of my skin. Though knowledge of part of my heritage means I am aware of the similarities of the story, I am not Filipino. I spoke frankly with representatives from FilVetRep on my suitability to co-advocate and the response was, this is an American issue, and Filipino Americans have advocated alone for a long time without the US accepting responsibility for its actions. Without this acknowledgement from the government, the problem cannot be solved.
Bridging the gulf of understanding that exists between POVs has been interesting as I am both the perpetrator and the victim. I understand the arguments that resist accountability and I understand the existential wounding of the aggrieved. Partnered with Amanda Upson and Benito Bautista, we began to build a creative collaboration including Filipino representation at all levels, as well as women, BIPOC, disabled, and veterans. We have remained in close contact with FilVetRep and a dozen more allied AAPI, veteran, and legal organizations to update them on our progress and check in with what is happening across the community. Together, we have demonstrated the patience and dedication in the face of underfunding, in the face of our subjects dying, in the face of a pandemic, and even in the face grave of illness. We continue to stand in solidarity with our veterans, living and dead, to amplify their voices to a broad audience. We are still here, doing the work every day until our collective work is done.
And for me personally, this is ancestral work, a mandate. It shall be done.
Ms. Botkin has been producing for seven years, including the award-winning documentaries Her Turf (2018) and Mary Janes: The Women of Weed (2017). Her directorial debut is the documentary A Long March (2021) which she created with a diverse crew under the guidance of the Filipino community. A member of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, Botkin’s indigenous writing has garnered recognition as a second-round selection at the Austin Film Festival (2016) and quarterfinalist at Atlanta Film Festival (2018). She is a staunch supporter of diverse voices and Women in Film.
Ms. Upson is a successful deaf attorney turned film producer. Amanda focuses on advocacy of the underrepresented in front of and behind the camera and is a change agent for accessibility. Her first film, Magnum Opus, garnered wide distribution in 2018. Named one of FORBES 40 to Watch Over 40, she is admitted to the bar of the US Supreme Court. In her spare time, serves as a mentor to students of University of Virginia.
Mr. Bautista is an internationally distributed award-winning Filipino filmmaker whose passion is to tell underrepresented global stories. His feature film Gift of Barong is part of Stanford’s Program for International and Cross-Cultural Education, and HARANA has broadcast twice on PBS nationwide. His latest narrative release, The Interpreter, is currently available on Amazon Prime. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of San Diego Filipino Cinema.
Rodolfo C Panaglima Joy V Romero Meyers Jackie Speier
Celestino G Almeda Luciano Amutan Marie C Blanco Diwa A Carabio
Frank Catalo Frank J Francone Victor Fulford Jon Melegrito
Antonio M Taguba Seth A Watkins Colleen Woods
Tamara Benitez, cinematographer Michael Dadap, composer
Nonie Cruzado, illustrator Gregg Stouffer, editor Noel M Izon, co-producer
Paul Tanedo, co-producer Mass FX Media, motion graphics & visual effects
Justin Besana, key art V Tran, colorist Glen Matisoff, sound design
In an honest and heartfelt directorial debut, TS Botkin follows Filipino-American veterans as they emotionally trace their paths from war to erasure by the U.S. Government, marching from an obscured history to the Federal courts, right up to the steps of Congress in search of promises denied.
Better Angels Lavine Fellow
GI Film Festival San Diego
LA Asian Pacific Film Festival
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