All Grown Up

My 19-year-old brother, Justin is on the autism spectrum and is leaving for college. It will be his first time to be independent from my parents. This is an exciting milestone for him but we worry that he won’t make it on his own. Although he is a genius, his maturity level is that of a 12-year-old. He lacks social skills and self-discipline. We even doubt if he can cross the streets safely. But we have to take the risk.

As his “controlling” sister while we were young, I find the need to be with him as he enters the most challenging chapter of his life. With my camera, I accompany him during his last days of summer vacation, his circumcision, and his first week in school. A part of me wants to believe that he can make it like normal boys- get decent grades, have friends, find a girlfriend- but a part of me wants to protect him and not expect too much.

I leave Justin and go back to Manila. It is my daughter’s first day in first grade and I simply cannot miss it. Weeks later, the teachers at school suggest that my daughter has some attention and communication issues. This is very difficult for me to accept.

In the course of one year, I will observe how Justin deals with his new world (via his video updates) and at the same time, I will investigate if my daughter actually has problems (via my video recordings). As a controlling person entering her thirties with no clear financial and career path, all these worries are driving me crazy. How can I provide a better life for them?

In this short journey, I will find answers to my questions such as: what is normal and how can I be gentler to them and to myself.

  • Wena Sanchez
  • Abigail Lazaro
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 30, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
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Director Biography - Wena Sanchez

Born in 1985 in Cebu, Philippines. Since 2012, Wena has been working for Hiraya Pictures, a production company that focuses on intimate, socially-relevant documentaries. Her previous film, Nick and Chai, won local and international awards. It also competed in IDFA, Busan IFF, and other festivals. Aside from her own documentary projects, she’s currently in close collaboration with other directors as producer for films she really finds important and cinematic.

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Director Statement

What kind of love should we give so that the people we love will flourish and reach their full potential? Should this love be more relaxed and trusting or should it be more tough and strict because we know better? When is tough love still loving and when is the more relaxed approach not loving anymore?

These questions are being asked by all types of people from all over the world yet there are no clear answers. In the current Philippine setting, people are divided with the president’s iron fist approach. He wants to discipline people because he believes that’s what Filipinos need the most. Many people agree this is the best way to have a better Philippines, but many also think he’s going overboard.

I want to find answers to these questions by confronting my personal life. I have turned into a very controlling person but I believe it’s what’s best for my daughter. I wish my parents weren’t as relaxed as they were when raising my special needs brother, that maybe he’d turn out differently if they’re just more strict. But now, I realize there are no clear cut solutions to most things and most of the time, there’s no one person to blame for the imperfections of life.

The world is now turning black and white again, the masculine dominates and is being hailed as the only way to make things better. Through this film, I want to show that toughness is beneficial only if it springs from love and that as long as we keep questioning our ways as we move ahead (Am I still being a good parent? Am I too much? Am I doing this for their own good or for my own?), then we are still alright, then they will still be, hopefully, alright.