Fil Am Filmmaker Wins UCLA Film Festival Top Prize

by Kobakila News

LOS ANGELES, CA — Filipino-American Director/Writer Jerell Rosales, of Moreno Valley, CA, won one of the coveted Director’s Spotlight Award and award for Best Editing at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) Film Festival for his film, Born to Dance this Way.

The Director’s Guild of America in Hollywood, CA will premiere his film at the Directors’ Showcase together with the nine other winners on June 14.  At the same time, TFT will also honor the Filmmaker of the Year Award to 2012 Oscar® winner Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt) and TFT’s prestigious Champion Spirit Award to legendary producer Harvey Weinstein (My Week with Marilyn, The King’s Speech).

The ten films, which have emerged through several rounds of judging by TFT students, as well as a Blue Ribbon Jury of industry professionals, are among the most exciting works UCLA Film Festival has to offer.

The Directors’ Showcase has provided a platform for outstanding talent since its inception more than two decades ago. Over the years, this event has exhibited early works of filmmakers such as Alexander Payne (The Descendants), Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), Catherine Hardwicke (Red Riding Hood), Gore Verbinski (Rango), Gil Kenan (Monster House), Justin Lin (Fast Five) and Shane Acker (9).

Rosales joins this elite group of UCLA Theater, Film & Television Alumni to be celebrated at the Director’s Showcase with his Dance/Comedy short film, “Born to Dance this Way,” .  The film is about JOO SI (Russell Argenal) auditioning to be a backup dancer for the sexy female pop group, the 4Play Ladies (as themselves).

Newcomer Russell Argenal leads the cast, alongside Eileen Soong, Hidekun Hah, Asha Kamali and the acting debut of the Filipina Girl Group, the 4Play Ladies (Carlen Ocampo, Charlie Rano and Elle Jaxon), from San Francisco, CA.

The 4Play Ladies’ was recently selected by the judges of NBC’s America’s Got Talent Season 6 to go to Las Vegas to compete for the top prize. The band’s Dirty Little Secret music video directed by Ian Maxion can now be requested and seen regularly on MYXtv Asia and YouTube. Their latest single release “Last Call” produced by Rockus Music is featured in “Born to Dance this Way” and is available to download on iTunes.

“Born to Dance this Way truly is an Asian-American film. It shows us a unique glimpse at another side of today’s Asian-American experience, and I am damn proud of that” Rosales says.  He goes on to say that Growing up, The Debut and Justin Lin’s Better Luck Tomorrow were the only Asian-American films he knew of.  “But now it’s a whole new ball game. With the internet and reality television shows, Asian-Americans are coming up in the world, and I’m excited to be a new part of Asian-American history hitting the mainstream in so many different formats, particularly film,” adds Rosales.

According to Rosales, “the essence of the film, at its core, is about our human need to be desired, loved, and noticed. When others notice us, when they give us recognition and express appreciation for us, it gives a sense of validation of our worth in this world. But let’s be real, people can be really messed up. Society constantly judges us with things that we are just plain born with and can’t change — like body type, skin color, sexuality. It makes us question our worth: how beautiful am I? Who loves me? What is wrong with me? Why me?.”

In the film, Joo Si is the physical manifestation of a person’s constant and desperate need to be desired. “He is that glimmer of hope and that little voice of in all of us that says F— what society and everyone else thinks, this is who I am; And whether you like or not I am beautiful, I am sexy, I am talented, I am lovable, and hell yes, I am Born to Dance this Way,” says Rosales.

Born to Dance this Way is funded by UCLA Pilipino Alumni Association’s Transfer of the Year Scholarship, the Rita Morrison Film Award for Artistic Merit, the Frank Glicksman Memorial Scholarship for Artistic Merit, and by Rosales’ parents.

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