18 years of “The Debut”

SAN FRANCISCO — “The Debut” was the long-awaited moment that many Filipino-Americans could finally look up on the big screen and see themselves, their stories, and their issues.

Thanks to the Cinematografo Film Festival, the cast was invited back 18 years later to the exact same theater where the film first premiered in San Francisco.

“To be back here 18 years later is crazy, because the following weekend after we premiered here, that’s when we started our theater run,” said writer John Manal Castro. “We sold out every screening: Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Number one movie per screen in the United States even though we only had one screen but still it sounds cool, over 20,000 per screen.”

“The Debut” celebrates its 18th year at the same time of the rise of representation of Asian-Americans in Hollywood — like the success of “Crazy Rich Asians” and Darren Criss’s Emmy award.

Gene Cajayon — the director of “The Debut” — hopes this continues.

“I hope that Crazy Rich Asians is not a one-off. I hope that Fresh Off the Boat is not a one-off. I hope The Debut is not a one-off. My hope is that it keeps going — not necessarily that the film is good by itself. It’s really part of an overall movement and that it’s a long and sustained movement that goes on over time.”

During a questions and answer portion between the cast and audience, it was revealed that there is a sequel to “The Debut.”

“Debut 2 was a wedding movie. We have the treatment and story written years ago. We were just never able to get the financing for it. I don’t know. Who knows? We’ll see.”

“The Debut” was shown on two of the four days of the Cinematografo film festival.

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