Last August, I had the opportunity to work for the Asian American International Film Festival in New York. It was a wonderful opportunity. I met and worked with great people, including filmmakers, publicists and non-filmmakers, too. The AAIFF had such a great line-up that it was such a shame a lot of people didn’t know about it beforehand. But nonetheless, this was year was its 34th time in the city so I think the city and its people do know about it.
Another thing I got to do at the festival was watch movies and one of the movies I watched was Filipino filmmaker, Ramona S. Diaz‘, latest documentary, The Learning. The Learning follows the lives four female teachers hired by the city of Baltimore, MD from the Philippines to teach in their schools.
The film follows their first year as they try to adjust to living in a vastly different land with different conditions and culture, away from the anything familiar, including their families and loved ones. It wasn’t easy. One teacher had to leave her baby, miss his first birthday and struggle with her baby not recognizing her as his mother. One teacher had to leave her family and witness her husband breaking down because of her absence. One teacher had to deal with her husband’s drug problems while struggling to do good at her job. And one teacher had to struggle with her family’s demands, financially. It wasn’t easy and everyday is still a struggle for them.
The Learning is a wonderful film on embracing change. It’s not always necessary and it’s never easy. But when it’s needed, a lot of tough decisions have to be made and a lot of consequences have to be accepted and lived with. The four teachers have different but strong, determined personalities. They’re not passive, they’re reactive and they take action. It’s a wonderful film about dreams and what they cost to get it.
The Learning will be showing on PBS on September 20, 2011. Check out the PBS website for local listings.
About the Filmmaker
Ramona S. Diaz is a Filipino documentary filmmaker living in Baltimore, MD. She founded the independent production company, Cinediaz, in 2000 to produce feature length documentary films. Her previous full-length documentary feature, IMELDA, premiered in the Film Forum in New York City and has been screened in over thirty film festivals all over the world. She is currently on her next full-length documentary feature, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s journey, a documentary about the iconic 80s band, Journey, and their new front man, Filipino singer, Arnel Pineda, who they discovered on YouTube.