Inspiring Insight | Mingei International Museum

This August the San Diego Filipino Cinema (SDFC) will be featured as our Community Spotlight in the outdoor arcade. Their installation Tela Nobela (Stories on Fabric) and the Sine Kwento (Stories in Film) is an extension of the stories SDFC tells in film through a series of free-flowing quilted curtains constructed with cut and sewn fabrics collected from the clothes of the Filipino and Filipino American communities in San Diego. This quilted curtain also serves as a screen for projecting Filipino films occasionally accompanied by original music.

The San Diego Filipino Cinema has been long-time friends with the Museum, they were the hosts for one of our first-ever Community Mondays where they celebrated the opening of the first inaugural San Diego Filipino Film Festival. We’re thrilled to be able to chat with Co-Founders Benito Bautista and Emma Francisco Bautista.

How did SDFC and Mingei first become connected?

Benito: The first person we met at Mingei was Cristina Godinez. We met at Liberty Station where the Museum had temporary offices while under renovation. Then our first partnership with Mingei was historic - we had the Magic Hour: SDFFF Preview Night Gala for our inaugural San Diego Filipino Film Festival at Mingei for Community Mondays. So it was memorable for everyone – and we’ve been good friends since!

Can you tell us about Tela Nobela (Stories on Fabric) and Sine Kwento (Stories in Film)?

Benito: It is an art installation that began as a partnership with the Bonita Museum, and we hope to have it travel to other places around the United States, so the project can continue to grow. The installation is made of textiles such as old clothes or recycled fabrics from people within the Filipino community. They donated them to create the quilt, and then it became the backdrop for film clips edited together by local filmmaker Edrian Pangilinan, accompanied by an original music score composed by LA-based composer Jaimie Pangan.

Emma: We collected clothes from all generations of Filipino immigrants living here in San Diego County. The pieces of clothing come from immigrants who worked or are working in various industries – education, healthcare, military, entertainment, and government – and our team of volunteers put all the donated clothes together. Every single person has a story to tell and the clothes represent their challenges and triumphs. It was important for us to share both so that people can sense and learn about their success and their dreams as well as the many challenges they face as immigrants in this country. Our community’s contribution to society often slips through the cracks which is why it is important for us to shed a spotlight on these tangible pieces of clothing - each piece tells a story we can learn from. On the wall next to the Tela Nobela installation, we have the lists of names of the clothing donors and the stories behind each piece of clothing they donated.

Who made the quilted curtain?

Benito: For the Bonita Museum installation, we asked the Silayan National Filipina Organization to help us gather fabric and find people to sew the curtains together. For this space, we designed the curtain in such a way that you will see in the middle a bahay kubo (nipa hut), a traditional house in the Philippines.

Emma: The bahay kubo symbolizes the origin of most shared stories and where we first hear and experience storytelling – from our very home.

Is it the same film every time? Or does the film change depending on the location?

Benito: The first installation we did was a compilation of films we edited into a trailer format. In every city, we plan to change that trailer.

What happens at the San Diego Filipino Film Festival?

Emma: San Diego Filipino Film Festival happens every year and it’s typically held in October when we commemorate Filipino American History Month. This year it will be October 3-8, 2023.

Benito: Within the festival, we have film exhibitions of short and feature films and special screenings of classic and contemporary films. We also have different kinds of programs such as our Visions and Voices panel discussion series and fun networking events for creatives and filmmakers to have a fun and safe space to talk about potential collaboration.

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