New Documentary KAPWA TEXAS Spotlights A New Generation of Filipina American Community Activists, World Premieres May 11
Featuring Three Young Woman Standing Up For Asian/Black Solidarity, Mental Health, LGBTQ Identity; From the Award-Winning Team Behind CALL HER GANDA
Premieres At 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival During Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Month
LOS ANGELES, CA (May 8, 2023) – Director PJ Raval and producer Cecilia Mejia will premiere their latest documentary KAPWA TEXAS this May at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. The feature-length documentary shares the story of three Filipino American women coming-of-age personally and politically in Texas in the midst of the pandemic and the racial justice movement. KAPWA TEXAS premieres on Thursday, May 11 at L.A. Regal Live, preceded by the short film PANDEMIC BREAD directed by L.A. Rebellion filmmaker Zeinabu irene Davis.
“With KAPWA TEXAS, I hope to not only shed light on some amazing everyday Filipinos, but also by highlighting the self-reflections and critical conversations within families and communities this moment inspires,” said filmmaker PJ Raval, whose credits include CALL HER GANDA and Oscar-nominated TROUBLE THE WATER. “This community-driven filmmaking approach gives us access into the most intimate and vulnerable moments we all experience.”
“For me, Kapwa has come to mean so much more than what we started out to do, which was to tell stories of our community,” said Cecilia Mejia, producer of YELLOW ROSE and LINGUA FRANCA. “Filipinos play a crucial part in this country, yet the everyday person is largely unaware of Filipino communities who comprise the second largest Asian American community in the US. I feel we’re now at the point of building communities and holding space for one another.”
Kapwa, a Tagalog term meaning “togetherness” or “neighbor,” is a recognition of shared identity; an inner self that is shared with others. KAPWA TEXAS follows three Filipino women each coming into their political consciousness and discovering themselves during a pivotal moment in their lives.
Lauren (22) never expected her final college semester to take place under a pandemic lockdown. Uncomfortable with unmasked family gatherings, Lauren drives home to Bedford, TX to experience her Zoom graduation with extended family. When the trip home turns into an unexpected moment of openness and healing, Lauren grows closer to her parents in ways she never thought possible.
When the world is shaken by the brutal murder of George Floyd, Monica (24) tells her parents she’s thinking of attending a Black Lives Matter protest only to be encouraged to stay home and pray instead. After defying her parents’ wishes and with the impending 2020 election, Monica takes a risk and sets out to use her social media platform to reach across the aisle to undecided voters and to her conservative parents who see Monica in a new light.
Isolated by the pandemic, Jenah (28) begins to question her life path having left a career as a nurse to pursue her calling as an activist and artist despite the concerns of her parents. With the on-going violence against the black community and attacks targeting Asian Americans escalating, Jenah struggles to find ways to help the community ravaged by hate crimes. After being shaken by the 2021 Atlanta Spa Shootings and with the help of a friend, Jenah finds her power again and leads her community into a crucial moment of solidarity and healing.
During times of crisis triggered by the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, blatant racial injustice, and a Trump presidency, Lauren, Monica, and Jenah give audiences an honest and intimate look into “kapwa”. Through self-documented intergenerational conversations and resilience, KAPWA TEXAS demonstrates the unbreakable bond of Filipino family and community.
The film will also screen in San Francisco at CAAMfest on Saturday. May 13, preceded by short film ANGEL DOSE by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sami Khan. Both films screen as part of the free Community Care program at the San Francisco Public Library.
Director PJ Raval is a queer first generation Filipinx American filmmaker who examines social justice issues through the voices of queer and marginalized subjects. Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100,” Raval’s feature credits include TRINIDAD (Showtime) and BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (WORLD Channel), a film about three gay seniors hailed by indieWIRE as “a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon.” His film CALL HER GANDA chronicles the events surrounding the murder of trans woman Jennifer Laude by a US marine in the Philippines. GANDA broadcast on POV (PBS) in 2019 and was nominated for a Philippines Academy Award for Best Documentary and anchored an impact campaign with over 150+ community screenings including a meeting with the US State Department.
An accomplished cinematographer, Raval shot the Academy Award-nominated documentary TROUBLE THE WATER and is a co-founder of the NEA supported queer transmedia arts organization OUTsider. He serves on the steering committee of the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc) and is a Soros Justice Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of both the Producers Guild and Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Producer Cecilia MEJIA is a second-generation Filipino American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She has worked for over a decade in development for nonprofit organizations, including NGOs at the United Nations. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration and Affairs. She’s worked with grassroots organizations focusing on underrepresented communities. Cecilia has produced a number of films focusing on critical social impact issues. She’s the lead producer of the award-winning, Sony-acquired, feature film YELLOW ROSE, a Social Impact Producer of the award-winning doc CALL HER GANDA and Co-Producer for Array Studios- acquired, LINGUA FRANCA. Cecilia is combining her passion for film and philanthropy with under-resourced youth as the Creative Director for an arts-focused nonprofit organization, Art of Me. She is also an adjunct at NYU in the Open Arts department. She is the owner of Remedias Productions, a production company focused on social impact storytelling and producing.