Lingua Franca

Alex, recently back in Brighton Beach after a family-imposed sabbatical in Russia, finds work at a slaughterhouse while looking after his grandmother Olga, who suffers from dementia. He finds himself drawn to Olga's Filipino caregiver, Olivia. When he realizes that she's an undocumented transwoman, Alex must decide whether to help Olivia with her predicament.

  • Isabel Sandoval
    Senorita, Aparisyon
  • Isabel Sandoval
    Senorita, Aparisyon
  • Darlene C. Malimas
    Senorita, Aparisyon, The Dog Show, The Story of Us That Never Was, The Dog Show, The Landscape Within, Bliss,
  • Carlo Velayo
    The Light of the Moon
  • Jhett Tolentino
    Life Is What You Make It, Broadway - This Is Our Youth, A Gentlemen's Guide To Love & Murder, Vania and Sonia and Masha and Spike, A Raisin in the Sun
  • Eamon Farren
    Key Cast
    The Witcher, Twin Peaks: The Return, The ABC Murders (BBC), The Witcher (Netflix)
  • Isabel Sandoval
    Key Cast
  • Lynn Cohen
    Key Cast
    Sex and the City, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Master of None, Munich
  • Lev Gorn
    Key Cast
    The Americans, Billions, Maniac
  • Ivory Aquino
    Key Cast
    When We Rise (ABC), High Maintenance (HBO), Central Park Five (Netflix)
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 29 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    750,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Tribeca Film Festival (Work-In-Progress) Screening
    New York City
    United States
    April 28, 2019
    Work-in-Progress Screening
    Official Selection (among 3 Feature Narratives)
  • Venice International Film Festival

    September 5, 2019
    World Premiere
    Venice Days (in competition)
  • BFI London Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    October 9, 2019
    UK Premiere
    Main Competition
  • AFI Fest
    Los Angeles
    United States
    November 17, 2019
    North American Premiere
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival
    Palm Springs
    United States
    January 8, 2020
  • Busan International Film Festival
    Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
    October 13, 2019
    Asian Premiere
Distribution Information
  • Luxbox
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
  • JHR Films
    Country: France
    Rights: All Rights
  • TLV
    Country: Israel
    Rights: Theatrical
Director Biography - Isabel Sandoval

Isabel Sandoval is a New York-based transgender Filipina filmmaker filmmaker whom The Museum of Modern Art has recognized as a "rarity among the young generation of Filipino filmmakers." She is the first transgender director to compete at the Venice International Film Festival with her feature "Lingua Franca", starring "The Witcher" star Eamon Farren.

She has produced, written and directed three full-length features, including Señorita (2011), which premiered in competition at the Locarno Film Festival and was nominated for Best Picture by the Young Critics Circle of the Philippines. Señorita also won the Emerging Director Award at the 2012 Asian-American International Film Festival. Her second feature film, Apparition (2012), a period drama about cloistered Filipino nuns during the Marcos regime, premiered at Busan International Film Festival and won at prestigious festivals including the Hawaii International Film Festival and the Deauville Film Festival. In 2017, MoMA featured Apparition in its series "A New Golden Age: Contemporary Philippine Cinema" alongside works by Filipino masters Lav Diaz and Brillante Mendoza. Her third feature, Lingua Franca, an immigration drama set in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, has received support from IFP, SFFILM, Frameline, Vilcek Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Tribeca Film Institute. It premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and will be released theatrically in France in March 2020. She is 2019 MacDowell Fellow in film.

In November 2019, Sandoval was awarded the SFFILM-Westridge Foundation screenwriting grant for Baptism. She is in development on her fourth dramatic feature, Tropical Gothic, with the French production company Andolfi, which had produced Berlin and Venice prizewinners.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Lingua Franca is a narrative feature about a transgender Filipina immigrant, written and directed by a transgender Filipina immigrant.
It’s both exhilarating and nerve-wracking for me to say that. It isn’t often that minority filmmakers like me are given the platform to tell stories about my own community, and that’s why I feel enormous responsibility to tell the story with candor and compassion. I’ve seen a few Filipino friends - all breadwinners of their families in the Philippines - make sacrifices and tough, ethically dubious choices (like practically buying a marriage-based green card as Olivia in my screenplay does). They’re resigned to the fact that the American Dream comes with a steep price.
Meanwhile, as a transwoman, I’ve experienced firsthand the differences in how men and women are treated. I also happen to be a woman of color, and a migrant worker, making my situation more complex. Olivia and I aren’t the same person but, drawing on personal experience, I do my best to make Olivia as layered and nuanced as I can. I’d like to think that my first-person perspective gives Lingua Franca a lived-in authenticity.
Finally, I strongly believe that art and cinema must be equal to the challenges of our time, especially in such a politically turbulent climate.