“Lingua Franca” independent film features Filipina transwoman director and actress

What would happen if you put together a production team of award-winning Filipinos and a few Hollywood stars in one movie?

It becomes the most-awaited high-profile Pinoy independent movie of 2018.

Tony-winning Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino, Oscar-winning filmmaker Gigi Dement, and award-winning producer Carlo Velayo are joining forces with film festival winning writer, actor and director, Isabel Sandoval for a new movie she wrote called “Lingua Franca.”


Lingua Franca is about an undocumented Filipino transwoman who works as a caregiver to an elderly Russian-Jewish woman in Coney Island.

But when the trans-Pinay TNT to be played by Sandoval herself, runs out of options to get a green card – she makes a bold but risky move.

The filmmakers say this immigrant story about the life of a marginalized group has never been more relevant especially in this Trump-era political climate.


“As a transgender woman, I can understand the emotional and the psychological truths that transgender immigrant woman face and I wanted to bring life and voice to that of perspective,” said Sandoval.

Meanwhile, 3-time Tony-winning Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino is crossing over to the silver screen to team up with academy-winning Pinay producer Gigi dement to put together a dream team of movie producers.


“From theater, you know, we have to expand, I think the next step is film, as you know I have done life is what you make it. It’s about the Filipino agenda pushing our stories,” said Tolentino.


Dement says it’s extremely gratifying for her to be working with such an illustrious group of Filipinos, including those who will be working in front of the camera.


“I wanna tell Filipino stories and then I met Isabel, and she’s telling Filipino stories, so bravely and then I met Jhett Tolentino almost a year ago now, and he’s just like me,” she says. “He has the same philosophy as I do, let’s tell a great story with authentic people and do it the best way we possibly can.”

Hollywood stars such as Matt McGory and Lynn Cohen have given their soft commitments to be in the movie.

Alan Cumming and sex and the city’s Cynthia Nixon are reading the scripts and the production team is negotiating to get them in the cast.


“My hope for this film is exactly promote the trans rights, the immigration and of course, the Filipino agenda, we too can make great films here in the United States.”

Film production starts in march and it will be historic – not only because of the collaboration of this award-winning Filipino production team, but because Sandoval will be the first trans woman to write and direct a feature film.


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