The films I watched at HIFF 2019 were Just Mercy, 37 Seconds, and Yellow Rose. I wanted to watch Just Mercy because it was one of the feature films and I saw it was starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson. I chose 37 Seconds because I wanted to watch a Japanese film and after watching the trailer I was very intrigued. Lastly, I chose Yellow Rose because the description said this movie was about a Filipina American and as a Filipina myself, I really wanted to see this.
This was my first time at HIFF and I very much enjoyed it and all the films I watched were amazing. It’s hard to pick a single highlight, but besides the films themselves, I think it was being able to hear the directors of 37 Seconds and Yellow Rose speak about the works they created because it gave me a new perspective on what I watched when they described their process and why they made these. I am very grateful I got to go to HIFF with a press pass and watch any film I wanted for free, as I realized there are so many people really invested in this festival.
I learned and realized from HIFF that telling stories (especially from the films I watched with heavy topics and issues) through this type of outlet is really important especially through different perspectives, such as films from different countries. The films I watched dealt with topics such as injustice, racism, disability, identity, and immigration which made me really think of our world today and definitely challenged my values.
I can honestly say that I loved all the films I saw because they all resonated with me in different ways. I think Yellow Rose resonated with me the most, not because it was so incredible to see Filipinos represented on screen, as well as it being directed by a Filipina herself, but because of how realistic this film seemed. Yellow Rose was definitely emotional as we see a mother taken away from her young daughter from ICE, but what added true shock of reality to me was the ending. I honestly did not like the ending at first because *spoiler alert* it’s not a happy ending where the mother and daughter get to be together again like I really hoped. Instead, it ends with us not knowing if they ever get to see each other again which really hit me because so many children of immigrant parents are in that position today of being separated and not knowing what’s ahead for them and just taking it day by day; hoping one day they will get their happy ending.
Regarding the different cultures at HIFF, like I mentioned earlier the most important thing I learned that telling stories with different types of topics and issues through this outlet is very important and even if it is not in your first language or the country you are from it can still have a huge impact on you.
I think this collaboration was definitely a great learning experience. I definitely recommend HIFF to friends and family because you get to see many types of film genres from different countries and perspectives and I enjoyed the overall experience.