Director’s Cut: Ara Chawdhury

Cebuano film Miss Bulalacao to hit South Korea, Bangkok, USA and South Africa next month. 

The talented young filmmaker Ara Chawdhury has come a long way from being recognized as one of Cebu’s most promising creatives in Zee Lifestyle‘s Youth Issue in April 2015. Her debut full-length feature, Miss Bulalacao, will be premiering and competing in four international film festivals in June.

Ara Chawdhury (Photography by Dani Bautista)
Ara Chawdhury (Photography by Dani Bautista)

missBFollowing its success at the Cinema One Originals 2015 and the Young Critics Circle Awards, Miss Bulalacao will have its international premiere at the Seoul Independent Women Film Festival, known as the world’s largest international women’s film festival on June 2-12. The film’s North America debut at the 5th YBCA New Filipino Cinema will follow on June 9-August 9, simultaneously competing at the Bangkok Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on June 10-19. Ara and cinematographer Christian Linaban are expected to appear in South Korea and San Francisco, while lead actor Russ Ligtas will represent the cast in Bangkok.

Miss Bulalacao will also travel to South Africa for the Durban International Film Festival, where film producer Bianca Balbuena will serve as part of the jury for the feature competition.

“I’m ecstatic over the chance to bring Bisaya humor to international audiences, and curious as to how it will be received, ” enthuses Ara.

Miss Bulalacao is about a young drag queen who joins a barangay gay pageant to gain acceptance in his father’s community. He is instead met with hostility from his father, who chases him to a jungle, where he sobs to a lone bright star. What follows is the strangest night in his entire life, and an even stranger nine months when he realizes he is pregnant. The film stars Russ, Tessie Tomas, Mon Confiado, Nanette Inventor, Chai Fonacier, Keith Deligero, Ferdinand Mesias, Gen Mijares and Ronyel Compra. (READ MORE: Constellation Prize)


Before jetting off to South Korea and USA, Zee Lifestyle catches up with Ara for a quick Q&A:

Ara Chawdhury (Photography by Dani Bautista)
Ara Chawdhury (Photography by Dani Bautista)

FILMMAKING IN CEBU? It’s not really a full-fledged industry yet. We don’t regularly screen Cebuano features anywhere, for example, but we’re getting there.

HOW IS BEING YOUNG AN ADVANTAGE? I can learn from my mistakes and still have the energy to do 30-hour shoots BUT inexperience and an inherent underestimation of younger people make it hard to get people to listen. So there’s a lot of pressure to achieve.

THE REWARDING THING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? Seeing mere ideas turn into tangible things. Filmmaking is basically catching lightning in a bottle.


A MOVIE YOU WISH YOU DIRECTED? Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. It’s a mix of everything I’ve wanted to bring onscreen—the feeling of isolation, a femme fatale who’s the spider instead of the fly, and it’s sci-fi to boot.



produced by Patty Taboada (with PR) photography Dani Bautista makeup Bobbie Albert hair Carlos Conde locale UVNS
Edited from the Young at Art feature originally published in Zee Lifestyle, April 2015. For back issues, subscribe via Magzter


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