Watching the new Yellow Rose trailer to promote the film’s theatrical release gives us chills and tears – while pumping up Filipino pride at seeing three of our best actresses onscreen together, we also see and hear the immigrant spirit that carries our family member, friend, or colleague who has left the Philippines to pursue the “American Dream”.
Yellow Rose, written and directed by award-winning documentary Filipino-American director Diane Paragas, is a music-driven narrative film about an undocumented Filipino girl pursuing her dream to become an American country singer who faces the threat of deportation. Her dream becomes more elusive when her mother is arrested and her aunt is unable to help her.
Paragas, herself the child of Filipino immigrant parents who went to Texas to escape Martial Law in the Philippines, masterfully crafts the film and it very much feels like a documentary that captures the hopes and challenges of Pinoys leaving the country for a better life abroad.
The teenage Filipino girl Rose Garcia is played by American actress of Filipino-Mexican descent, Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon, Hadestown), whose illegal immigrant mother Priscilla is portrayed by the Philippines’ iconic actress, Princess Punzalan (Mula sa Puso, Lovingly Yours), who moved to the United States and has been working as a nurse. Broadway royalty Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Misérables, Aladdin, Mulan) plays Princess’ well-off sister and Eva’s aunt, Gail.
The multi-award-winning feature film’s trailer was released on social media by Sony Pictures on September 4, 2020, revealing parts of the movie’s theme song with the lines that capture the spirited fight of immigrant Filipinos
“I never fit in
I never could win
Though I tried and tried…
“No, I won’t go quietly into the night
and I’ll sing ’til the light of day…
“They can take the roof from over my head
but they can’t take my freedom away”
As the storyline unfolds to the beat of these musical lines, we see scenes from the film that unleash our emotions and sympathies with the characters.
“It will be better for you I promise,” our hope rises with Punzalan’s Priscilla when she says the words to Noblezada’s Rose as the mother and daughter embrace, dreaming of better living conditions.
We are shattered when Rose tearfully asks, “Where are they taking you, Mom?” and screams “Nanay! (mother in Filipino) as she is forced to separate from her mother.
“Takbo! (Run),” Priscilla warns her child. The next scene shows the Filipino mother inside a jail saying what every undocumented immigrant fears, “They take everything away. I don’t even have a name anymore.”
We then see Salonga’s Gail welcoming Rose with an embrace but then hearing the words of her husband, “We already have one daughter. We don’t need another one,” we peek at her struggling to control her pained tears.
In her director’s statement, Paragas shares her mission with the Yellow Rose film, saying, “My hope is that Yellow Rose puts a human face on the plight of Dreamers, while entertaining the audience with original Americana music that they might not have listened to before.”
Film of Many Firsts
Yellow Rose is a film of many firsts for its director, its cast, and the production.
- First feature film of Eva Noblezada
- First film collaboration of Eva Noblezada and Lea Salonga, the two Kims of Miss Saigon
- First Hollywood-crew filming for Princess Punzalan
- First time ever in LAAPFF history that a movie by a Fil-Am director, Diane Paragas, opened the festival
- First Filipino and Filipino American film to be acquired by Sony Pictures for theatrical release in the U.S.
Multiple Awards since Premiere
Even before its theatrical release, Yellow Rose has already earned 13 jury and audience awards from around the world since its premiere in 2019, including the following:
- Grand Jury Award for Outstanding North American Narrative Feature during its World Premiere at the 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
- Breakthrough Performance Award for Eva Noblezada also at the LAAPCF
- Audience Award at 39th annual Hawai‘i International Film Festival
- Best Narrative Feature at the 2019 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
- Best Feature at 2019 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival in Canada
- People’s Choice Award for Best Overall Feature at the 23rd Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival
- Best Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize at Urbanworld Film Festival
- Audience Award at Urbanworld Film Festival
Yellow Rose also stars country singer-songwriter Dale Watson (Friday Night Lights), Gustavo Gomez (The Walking Dead), Libby Villari (Boyhood), and Liam Booth (Ghosts Never Sleep).
Yellow Rose was a 2019 film that won ABS-CBN’s Cinematografo Originals seed grant.
Yellow Rose is scheduled to be released only in theaters on October 9, 2020.
WATCH the trailer here and SEND CHEERS to the Filipinos showcasing the immigrant spirit in the Hollywood release of Yellow Rose!
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