Sandoval directed, wrote, produced, edited and stars in the film. “Lingua Franca” was the first movie directed by and starring a trans woman of color to screen in competition at 2019’s Venice International Film Festival Venice Days program. DuVernay announced the acquisition on Thursday.
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Sandoval portrays an undocumented Filipina trans woman who secures a job as a live-in caregiver for an elderly Russian woman named Olga, played by Lynn Cohen, in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood. But when she unexpectedly becomes romantically involved with Olga’s adult grandson, portrayed by Eamon Farren, issues around identity, civil rights and immigration threaten her very existence.
The Philippines-born Sandoval has also directed the award-winning films “Apparition” and “Senorita.”
“The release of Isabel Sandoval’s third film is beautifully timed to enter the national conversation at an unprecedented moment of cultural reckoning for many, especially as it relates to the rights and dignity of trans people around the world,” said Array president Tilane Jones. “Ms. Sandoval’s introspective lens provides a depth and intimacy to her storytelling that is rarely embraced on screen.”
The deal was negotiated by Gordon Bobb of Del Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano on behalf of Array and Antoine Blanc of BG Law and “Lingua Franca” producers Carlo Velayo, Jhett Tolentino, Darlene Malimas and Jerome Kerkman, on behalf of Luxbox and Sandoval.
Previous Array releases this year include “Justine” from Stephanie Turner, “Jezebel” from Numa Perrier and its first docuseries “They’ve Gotta Have Us” by Simon Frederick.