John Paul Su, recipient of the Best Asian-American Student Filmmaker Award from the Directors Guild of America, joins the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival through the New Wave category.
His film Toto tackles the life of the titular character, a young Filipino service attendant who is much willing to do whatever it takes to attain a US visa and live the American dream.
“As an immigrant myself, I am deeply attracted to Toto’s story for the way it speaks to the tension between integrity and compromise in the journeys of all outsiders. In moments of self-doubt, do you give up or do you soldier forward in pursuit of the dream? This is a question that, as a filmmaker in a new land where I was a complete unknown, I was constantly forced to ask myself time and time again,” Su shared.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Su is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, having received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television. Toto is his first ever full-length feature.
“In this film, all the characters have dreams and aspirations, be it about love, career, or simply friendship. But how far will one go to reach his dream?” Su said, describing the theme of the movie.
Sid Lucero plays Antonio “Toto” Estares who hails from Tacloban, a place ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda. But as if life is not tragic enough, his mother is also battling cancer.
He works at a hotel in Manila, and tries every way to get to the US so he can support his family. He is the sole provider since his father made it to Las Vegas with the promise of petitioning his family to be with him. But he ended up a dishwasher who drank and gambled away everything—until he died and left them penniless.
The only thing Toto inherited from his father is the obsession of the dream, which he has forged into his own, and is intent on fulfilling it, because it was also once his mother’s hope.
Joining Lucero in the cast are Thou Reyes, Blake Boyd, Mara Lopez, Neil Ryan Sese, Bembol Roco, Bibeth Orteza, Liza Diño, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Jelson Bay, Che Ramos, Marnie Lapus, Raul Montesa, Carlos Cruz, David Christopher, Lorenz, Martinez, and Sheila Valderrama.
Toto will be screened from December 17 to 24 in select Robinsons Place Manila Midtown Cinema, Glorietta 4 and SM Megamall cinemas.