Fil-Am filmmaker Isabel Sandoval’s ‘Lingua Franca’ scores 2021 Spirit Awards nomination

Sandoval stars as Olivia, a Filipina trans woman, in “Lingua Franca,” which premiered on Netflix on August 26, 2020.

“LINGUA Franca” by Filipina American filmmaker Isabel Sandoval has bagged a nomination at a prestigious awards body dedicated to independent filmmakers.

Sandoval’s third film on Tuesday, January 26 was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award in the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The award is given to films with a budget of less than $500,000.

“Lingua Franca” tells the story of an undocumented trans Filipina living in New York City who struggles to make enough money as a caretaker to send back to her mother in the Philippines, as well as to pay for an American man to marry her for a green card.

Sandoval wrote, directed, and starred in the film, which originally premiered at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival Venice Days program and made history as the first film directed by and starring an openly trans woman of color to be screened at the competition.

It was later acquired by ARRAY, which released the film on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 on Netflix and in select theaters.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, Sandoval expressed her excitement over the nomination.

“LINGUA FRANCA is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award! Gobsmacked to be in the running for the JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD!!!” she wrote.

Nominated alongside “Lingua Franca” for the award are “The Killing of Two Lovers,” “La Leyenda Negra,” “Residue,” and “Saint Frances.”

The Film Independent Spirit Awards, originally known as the FINDIE (Friends of Independents) Awards, is an award-giving body dedicated to independent filmmakers.

“2020 was Hell on Earth. But one glorious lifeline these past months has been the ability to watch so many great films and shows,” said Josh Welsh, President Film Independent.

He added, “In an unbelievably challenging year, this year’s Spirit Award nominees inspired us, connected us and have been a source of urgently needed light in the darkness. And even though we’re still stuck at home, let’s come together to celebrate this great work!”

The 36th annual Spirit Awards will air live Thursday, April 22 at 10:00 pm ET/7:00 p.m. PT exclusively on IFC and AMC+.

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