Filmmaker Spotlight: Marie Jamora

Flip the Record” written and directed by Marie Jamora, is featured on the X1 International destination this October in the Filipino-American Heritage Month collection. We had the pleasure of asking Marie what inspired her filmmaking journey and how her Filipino-American heritage influences her work.

Image Credit: Indie Pop Films

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Marie Jamora: Flip the Record” is about this little-known explosion of hip-hop culture that grew out of the Filipino-American community of 1980s San Francisco and the strong women that emerged from it. When I immigrated to the U.S. back in 2014, I learned about this scene of Bay Area Filipino-Americans that helped shape American music through Turntablism. I was fascinated by this revelation and wanted to shed light on this underrepresented moment in hip-hop history—specifically, to tell the story through a young girl’s experience—and how DJing helps her stand up and stand out.

Image Credit: Indie Pop Films

How did you get into filmmaking?

MJ: As the youngest in my family, I had this uncensored film education from my older siblings starting around age five. My sister rented these pirated Betamax tapes from the black market shops, so I saw a lot of weird foreign films with her that way. Plus, I’d religiously watch American television shows that played on cable meant for the U.S. soldiers stationed in the Philippines. Being exposed to the two worlds of foreign arthouse films and American television were so extremely different from my own experience, they inspired me to start making home movies when I was in grade school.

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

MJ: Steven Soderbergh’s “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” was the first time I saw a film wherein I found myself saying, “I think I can make a movie too.” Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan” made me realize that my upper-middle-class experience was just as relevant as the impoverished cinema that my country is known for. David Fincher’s “Se7en” gave me the confidence that I could make the jump from music video director to film director. I feel that Ang Lee’s “The Ice Storm” paved the way for Asian directors in Hollywood because he showcased his Asian sensibilities through an extremely American story.

Do you have a favorite Asian-American film?

MJ: My favorites are Justin Lin’s “Better Luck Tomorrow,” Gene Cajayon’s “The Debut,” Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club” and Ang Lee’s “The Wedding Banquet.” I remember the time and circumstances of watching each of these films as they really impacted me as someone who wanted to become a director. Each one of these films features a different genre, a different culture, and a different world—that’s why they are so influential and so lasting. These films showed me the power of Asian-American stories that were told counter-culturally during a time when “diversity” was not yet a buzzword.

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

MJ: Being Filipino is everything to me, and, funnily enough, I only realized this when I moved away from the Philippines. I grew up during the golden age of Manila’s rock scene and was a drummer/singer in a few bands as well as a music video director for over a decade. I think all Filipinos adore music—it’s in our DNA—so my blood and my background are why my work always predominately features music in some shape or form.

What is your outlook on the state of Asian-American cinema?

MJ: I was recently at a Q&A for “Gook” and remember Justin Chon say that winning at Sundance didn’t make it any easier to find money for his next feature. This shocked me, as I realized that even in this moment when Asian-American cinema is brighter than it was 5-10 years ago, where we have more representation onscreen and more Asian-Pacific American creators releasing content, it will always be a struggle until Asian-Americans from other industries start investing in telling our stories and buy tickets when they’re released. We can’t expect real change until we start talking with our wallets.

Image Credit: Leslie Gonzales

***

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Marie Jamora! Watch “Flip the Record” in the Filipino-American Heritage Month collection on your X1 International destination or with XFINITY Stream this October.

For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian-American news and entertainment visit XFINITY Asia.