‘Lingua Franca’ Director Isabel Sandoval Returns To Philippines To Shoot ‘Moonglow’ Starring Arjo Atayde

EXCLUSIVE: US-based Filipino filmmaker Isabel Sandoval is returning to the Philippines to shoot her fourth feature, Moonglow, starring Arjo Atayde (Trigger, BuyBust).

Sandoval, who is known for her award-winning 2019 feature Lingua Franca and directing series in the U.S., is scheduled to start shooting the noir crime thriller on April 9.

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Set in 1970s Manila, the film follows a jaded female police detective, who unbeknownst to her colleagues is the mastermind behind a successful heist, but who is paired up with an obsessively truth-seeking detective partner to crack the very crime that she orchestrated.

The film is produced by Alemberg Ang of the Philippines’ Daluyong Studios, with Tan Si En of Singapore’s Momo Film Co, Takahiro Yamashita of Japan’s Yaman Films and Ria Atayde of the Philippines’ Nathan Studios.

Arjo Atayde also stars in upcoming ABS-CBN crime series The Bagman and has recent credits including psychological series Cattleya Killer and movies including Erik Matti’s BuyBust and Richard Somes’ Topakk (Trigger).

Sandoval’s 2019 film Lingua Franca, about an undocumented transgender Filipina immigrant in the U.S., was acquired for North America by Netflix and ARRAY and for France by JHR Films. In 2022, Sandoval directed an episode of FX’s Under The Banner Of Heaven, starring Andrew Garfield, and also directed some episodes of Prime Video’s The Summer I Turned Pretty.

“In the midst of my involvement in various U.S. projects, my storytelling always finds its way back to the heart of my homeland,” said Sandoval, adding that her new project will combine elements of the gritty world of Philippine crime and politics with “lush romanticism”.

“The film is about the tragedy of losing one’s moral compass, an elegy to the death of idealism and sense of integrity within oneself,” said Sandoval. “It subverts noir conventions with its subtle feminist bent.”

Sandoval’s last two films – Lingua Franca and short film Shangri-La (2021) – premiered at Venice film festival. She made her debut with Senorita (2011), about a transgender woman striving to escape the sex work industry, which played in competition at Locarno film festival. Her second film Aparisyon (2012), about nuns living in a convent during the Marcos era, played in Busan’s New Currents and won the NETPAC award at Hawaii International Film Festival.

She also starred in Elisabeth Subrin’s Maria Schneider, 1983, which premiered in Cannes Directors Fortnight in 2022 and won best documentary short at France’s Cesar Awards.

Sandoval is represented by CAA, Team 713 and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC.

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