Press Release:

New York-based Filipino filmmaker Vince Sandoval, who’s starting to make waves in the international scene, flew to town back in February to direct a dramatic thriller set to compete at the 8th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival in July 2012. 

That film, “Aparisyon,” follows a group of cloistered nuns in the months leading to the declaration of Martial Law. Mylene Dizon and Jodi Sta. Maria, two of the best actresses of their generation, lead the stellar cast, which includes Raquel Villavicencio, Rustica Carpio and Fides Cuyugan Asensio. Sandoval wears multiple hats in “Aparisyon”, his second feature: aside from directing it, he wrote, co-produced and co-edited the film. “We had our last shooting day on April 20, the culmination of a grueling yet very rewarding shoot,” Vince says. 

Before “Aparisyon”, Vince dabbled in noir melodrama for his first full-length feature, Señorita (2011). Vince directed, co-produced, and co-wrote the screenplay, and played the title role of a transgender sex worker who attempts to start a new life in the province but instead gets entangled in local politics. “It was crazy and ambitious of me to be putting on so many hats for my first feature,” notes Vince – who is not formally trained in acting or filmmaking, “but I’ve always been thrilled by the idea of taking risks.”

One can say that his risk-taking has paid off. Señorita had its world premiere in competition at the prestigious Festival del Film Locarno in Switzerland, becoming only the third Filipino feature to ever compete at the 64-year-old festival, following Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen (1978) and Brillante Mendoza’s Masahista (2005). Señorita has since played at the Goteborg International Film Festival in Sweden (the largest Scandinavian film festival), Vancouver and Boston. It is nominated for Best First Feature at the world’s largest LGBT film festival, the Frameline International LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco, later this month. In July, while Vince premieres Aparisyon at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Asian American International Film Festival in New York will showcase Señorita before taking it on a national US festival tour. 

On top of that, while shooting Aparisyon in April, Vince got word that the Young Critics’ Circle (Philippines) has cited Señorita in 5 categories, including Best Picture of 2011. Personally, Vince was also nominated for Best Screenplay and Best Performance – a category which sees him recognized alongside two of his stars in Aparisyon, Ms. Villavicenio (as part of the ensemble for Bisperas) and Ms. Cuyugan Asensio (for Niño). “I was pleasantly surprised and honored by the nominations, and I can’t help finding it a little funny that I’m ‘competing’ with Tita Kelly (Raquel) and Tita Fides while we’re doing Aparisyon together”.

Asked how he transitioned from a drama about a transgender sex worker in Señorita to a thriller about contemplative nuns in Aparisyon, Vince laughs, “I can see how it might seem like a dramatic 180-degree turn, but you’ll see that both films explore similar themes. Besides, I’ve always been fascinated by subjects that seem obscure or esoteric – say cloistered nuns in the early ‘70s – and in unearthing the human core embedded in those stories”.

Originally from Cebu, Vince took what can best be described as a circuitous path to becoming a filmmaker. As a college student in 2002, he won an international essay contest held by the United Nations, which flew him to the U.N. Headquarters in New York. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Cebu’s University of San Carlos with a degree in Psychology, Vince moved to Manila for a two-year marketing stint at Unilever Philippines, managing national campaigns like Cream Silk’s Lea Salonga “100% Super Beautiful” push. He then moved to New York to pursue a MBA degree at New York University’s Stern School of Business, a Top 10 business school, where he specialized in Marketing and Media & Entertainment. 

While at NYU, Vince was among the winners of a screenplay competition where renowned American director Spike Lee was the head of the jury. He also interned for high-profile arthouse studios like The Weinstein Company and Focus Features. Among the highlights of his New York marketing and advertising career was being part of team that organized the Digital Content NewFront, a high-end summit for digital media creators and distributors. Martha Stewart, Teri Hatcher, Lisa Kudrow and Jason Bateman were among the stars featured in their panels. 

In 2009, Vince took a small – yet pivotal – step towards pursuing his passion for cinema. “I co-founded the IndioBravo Film Foundation in 2009, which screens independent Filipino films to US audiences. For the last three years, IndioBravo has partnered with GMA International, curating the latter’s cable programming of critically acclaimed independent Filipino cinema. 

The 2009 IndioBravo Film Festival at the Museum of Modern Art in New York was an important moment for Vince in a different way. “We screened Chris Martinez’s “100” and that was where I first met Ms. Mylene Dizon, whose work I’ve always admired,” he says. Three years later, Dizon would put on a nun’s habit – the first time she would tackle such a role -- with Sandoval in the director’s chair. 

For a sneak peek into “Aparisyon,” the synopsis follows:


1971. The year before Martial Law is declared. The place: The Adoration Monastery in the woods of a remote province a few hours away from Manila. A young novice, Lourdes, enters the monastery. A few weeks later, Remy, an extern nun, gets a visit from her mother and is told that her left-leaning brother has gone missing. Remy asks for a brief leave of absence to join her family in the search for her brother. Mother Superior turns Remy down, wanting to keep the nun safe from harm. But Remy, still troubled by the news about her brother, has other plans and ends up smuggling a pocket radio into the monastery to listen to news reports in the dead of night. Lourdes eventually finds out what Remy has been up to. Sympathizing with Remy’s plight, Lourdes asks to become an extern herself. She and Remy start attending meetings of families whose militant relatives have disappeared. When one of their meetings drags into the night, the two nuns end up walking in the woods in the dark and get accosted by a few men. Remy escapes but Lourdes is not that lucky. Shortly before dawn, Lourdes is found in the woods: she has been sexually abused. The entire monastery gets shaken, and the nuns start to unravel from the memory of that fateful night. Months later, the crisis climaxes in a startling revelation that turns the nuns’ world upside down. 

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