Groundbreaking trans filmmaker will accept inaugural tribute on April 19 star-studded TV show on streaming network Revry
GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics has named Isabel Sandoval, writer-director-star of the acclaimed transgender-themed film Lingua Franca, as the inaugural recipient of its GALECA Trailblazer Award. Chosen by the Society’s Board and propelled by a groundswell of support within the group’s general membership, the special accolade was created to honor entertainment figures who stand out for “creating art that inspires empathy, truth, and equity.”
Sandoval will officially receive the award, a small art portrait of her, in a special interview segment of GALECA’s Dorians Film Toast 2021, a two-hour awards special debuting on LGBTQ+ streaming TV network Revry, Sunday, April 18 (and on-demand thereafter). Jazz Tangcay, Senior Artisans Editor at the Hollywood trade publication Variety, will present the award on the awards show and chat with Sandoval about her work, inspirations, and process in coming out as a transgender person herself. Stars as varied as Gabourey Sidibe, Cheyenne Jackson, Rachel McAdams, Margaret Cho, and Charo are just a few of the other notables who will appear in the program.
The Philippines-born, U.S.-based Sandoval has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most talked-about filmmakers since Lingua Franca—currently in the running for the Indie Spirits’ John Cassavetes Award—drew attention from insiders, cineastes, and movie journalists alike last year. The edgy and absorbing drama, set in New York, follows an undocumented Filipina caregiver (played by Sandoval) as she seeks a green card—and navigates a complicated romance with her new and troubled American beau (Eamon Farren of The Witcher).
Franca first allured on the festival circuit, from Palm Springs to Slovakia, along the way making Sandoval the first trans woman to ever show a film at the Venice Film Festival. In due time, Array—the film company run by (past Dorian Award winner) Ava DuVernay—picked up the film for distribution, Netflix added it to its roster, and the dealmakers at CAA recently signed triple-threat Sandoval as a client.
Members of GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics have also taken note. Jude Dry of IndieWire wrote that Sandoval and her film heralded “the era of trans cinema auteurs.” Jose Solis, of The Film Stage, said, “Sandoval’s insight into the experience of undocumented immigrants, who are often exploited more than they’re allowed to ‘take advantage of the system,’ makes Lingua Franca essential as a document of America in 2020.” Danielle Solzman of Solzy at the Moviescalled Lingua Franca the film a work of “beauty.”
“It’s heartening to see Isabel Sandoval, a supremely talented trans woman of color, get such a firm footing in Hollywood so quickly,” says GALECA President Diane Anderson-Minshall, also CEO of Pride Media, publishers of Out and The Advocate magazines. “Especially at a time when many communities are struggling to put a stop to violence against both Asian-Americans and trans people.”
Sandoval’s first two features—2011’s Señorita, the noirish tale of a trans sex worker’s quest for a better life, and the gripping psychological thriller Apparition (2012)—are streaming this month on the Criterion Channel this month with new commentary from Sandoval. A graduate from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines, she also holds an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business. Most recently, she directed, wrote, edited, and acted in Shangri-La, a short film that’s part of high-fashion brand Miu Miu’s ambitious Women’s Tales web series. And, ever progressing, she’s currently in development on her fourth feature, Tropical Gothic.