Program 22: Billie and EmmaDirected by Samantha Lee
NEW YORK STATE PREVIEW SCREENING
In Tagalog and English with English subtitles.
Writer/director Samantha Lee brings us a delightfully romantic tale of young love, set in the mid-1990s, that is certain to tug at your heart. Zar Donato moves from behind the camera in her acting debut as Billie: a precocious teen who’s been sent from Manila to live with her aunt in the small rural village of San Isidro. Billie’s father desperately hopes that attending parochial school away from the city will discourage her newfound attraction to girls. Cielo Aquino plays Billie’s aunt, the religion teacher Miss Castro, who obviously loves Billie despite her rebellious nature and deep-seated ambivalence about fitting in.
Billie’s struggles with conformity are readily visible with her cropped haircut and the Doc Martin style boots that she dons with her plaid, Catholic school dress. The popular girls, among them Emma (played by Gabby Padilla) murmur and avoid Billie despite a certain curiosity about her rebellious nature. Emma is an overachiever, popular with classmates and teachers alike. But when she and Billie are assigned a joint project in class, Emma’s anxiety sets in. She assumes the leadership role in the project (undoubtedly to ensure that Billie didn’t ruin their grade). But after a moment of forgetfulness (and a somewhat unwitting save by Billie) her distrust softens and the two begin to warm to each other.
They soon become friends, but as their affection grows Emma finds herself confused by her new feelings, and is torn between her attraction to Billie and her diminishing fondness toward her boyfriend. When Emma discovers she is pregnant, her hopes for the future begin slipping away as others attempt to direct her course. Emma has important choices to make, and those decisions will affect her life for a long time to come.
~ Jennifer Morgan
Awards & Accolades
- Audience Award, Best Narrative Feature – Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Roze Filmdagen Amsterdam LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – TLVfest Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Frameline SF Int’l LGBTQ+ Film Festival
- Official Selection – Outfest LA LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Vancouver Queer Film Festival
- Official Selection – Rainbow Reel Tokyo Int’l Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
- Official Selection – Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival
- Official Selection – Seoul International Women’s Film Festival
- Official Selection – Taiwan International Queer Film Festival