8 year old Yael is a shy girl, inquisitive yet withdrawn, and lives in her own private world. She prefers writing letters rather than joining in with her cousins and dancing to the delight of family members. She lives at home with her mother, while her uncle is in a rock band and is the only father figure around her. She has an absent father working in Saudi Arabia to help support the family back home. Her only connection with him is the recorded cassettes he sends her mother, which she listens to incessantly. One day she sees a TV advert for a pen that can translate nervous thoughts, so she starts saving and sets out to find this ‘magic’ pen.
Director Statement: 'Nervous Translation is based on my experiences growing up as a shy child of the Filipino diaspora, unsure of myself, wanting to belong, and longing for a way to express that. It's a portrait of the quintessential Filipino family nowadays, since the 80s, where we only see and hear fragments of each other, and always in spurts.
Set in 1988, Nervous Translation seeks to recapture an important period in Philippine history and draw connections to the present day through issues that are still very familiar to us: the complexity of the family unit in light of migration, an obsession with consumer electronics and personal technology, and the sheer power of nature to remind us of our limits and about what really matters.'
This screening is part of an on-going programme “Vulnerable Histories” presented by Sine Screen that explores the representation of historical trauma in East & Southeast Asia. By juxtaposing the historical with the present-day, the programme seeks to examine how history comes to be documented, narrated, remembered, and erased.
Sine Screen is an emerging screening organisation dedicated to showcasing independent cinema, art films and documentaries from East and Southeast Asia, particularly the sinosphere. Aiming to subvert the dominant gaze, challenge the representation of East and Southeast Asia as well as opening discussions through curating diverse programmes of films by and about ESEA people.