Filmmaker Advice: Marissa Aroy

Director Marissa Aroy, who made "Delano Manongs," shares her tips on submitting to film festivals.
Named “One of the Most Influential Filipina Women in the US” by the Filipina Women’s Network, Marissa Aroy is also the director of Delano Manongs, a CAAM-funded documentary about Filipino farmworkers. The film premiered at CAAMFest 2014 as the Closing Night film. Since 1982, the annual festival has been an important launching point for Asian American independent filmmakers as well as a vital source for new Asian cinema. Submit now and join us at the nation’s largest showcase for new Asian and Asian American films.
Filmmaker Marissa Aroy. Photo courtesy of the filmmaker.
Marissa Aroy.

Marissa Aroy on CAAMFest:

I’ve attended the festival for years. It’s my most beloved film festival. As someone who lived in the Bay Area for years, seeing Asian and Asian American films and meeting Asian American filmmakers helped shape my career as a filmmaker. Our closing night screening was a wonderful, intimate, and emotional night with people sharing their experiences of this history and the Manongs [elders in Tagalog]. It’s definitely a film festival that takes care of the filmmakers and the films.

Aroy’s tips on submitting to film festivals:

Have a list of your top level festivals you want to get into, then have a B and C list. From there be realistic:  Does the film festival you are applying to have a track record of accepting films like yours? Can you afford to pay for all the festival entry fees that are being charged? Would a smaller festival give you more love and attention than a bigger one? Which festival has your target audience? Don’t say to yourself ‘everybody is my target audience.’ You have to think about who would look at a film festival program, see the description of your film and go see it. Does that film festival cater to your audience demographic.”

For me, The Delano Manongs is a historical documentary about Filipino Americans. My goal is to get Filipinos to learn about this history and be proud of it and have a better understanding of our contributions to the American fabric. The Asian American film festivals for me had my targeted demographic of people.”

Marissa Aroy director of Delano Manongs received an Emmy for the documentary Sikhs in America, which was shown on PBS. She produced and directed Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland also for PBS and produced Sounds of Hope for Frontline World. Aroy holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston College and a master’s degree in journalism from University of California, Berkeley. With her filmmaking partner, Niall McKay, she founded Media Factory, a media production company in 2004.

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