New film to capture experiences of Filipino immigrants in Labrador

Filmmakers are in Labrador to shoot a new National Film Board docudrama about the experiences of the Filipino community in the Big Land.

Acclaimed author Michael Crummey writing scripts for docudrama

Filmmakers are in Labrador to create a new National Film Board docudrama on the lives of Filipino immigrants to Labrador. Rohan Fernando, Justin Simms, Epitacia Bruce, and Tamara Segura. (Submitted)

Filmmakers are in Labrador to shoot a new National Film Board docudrama about the experiences of the Filipino community in the Big Land.

Despite a dramatically different culture, landscape and climate, dozens of Filipinos have immigrated to Labrador.

"Finding people here and connecting with them, it's been very revealing of how humans can connect and bond no matter how different the cultures are," said filmmaker Tamara Segura, herself an immigrant from Cuba in 2010.

Fellow filmmaker Rohan Fernando said the Filipinos he's met so far have embraced their new life on a remote edge of Canada.

"That's the surprising part. The people that we've spoken to love it here. They're very resilient and they've adapted so well and really enjoy the weather," Fernando laughed.

He said the film is aiming to capture a universal theme, the desire people have to build a good life, in this case a better life, for their families.

"The reasoning for being here is so strong; they want a better life for their family," Fernando said. "They recognize that that's possible here."

"So beyond the weather, the very human reason that they have to be here is very powerful."

Newfoundland-based author Michael Crummey is writing the script for the docudrama.

Segura said she's thrilled to work with Crummey and it's boosted her confidence in the project.

"It's an honour to have my name linked to his work because I am a big fan of what he does," said Segura.

Crummey wrote three scripts for the project — three separate stories about the community that are interlinked, Fernando said.

"Our job is take those wonderful, evocative scripts that Michael wrote and translate them into a film, which has various challenges." 

That includes capturing the essence of the characters and doing justice to the storylines.

Challenges of immigrating to new land

One of the characters featured in the film is a well-known Filipino woman who arrived in Labrador in the 1960's, and who represents the process of adaptation to a new culture, Segura said.

Another woman in the film has only been in Labrador for five or six years. She's married to a local person and has had a baby and, according to Segura, her story illustrates the process of integration for new immigrants. 

As a newcomer herself, Segura said the challenges immigrants face can't be underestimated.

"It's a big change, it's a big transformation. Everything changes. We have to change the way we speak, the way we dress."

Segura said the sense of a shared experience with the Filipinos in Labrador was a big motivating factor for her involvement with the film.

The filmmakers said the people of Labrador have been supportive of their project, "generous and inviting."

They're hoping to finish the film in 2017.