Lunaventure has announced it will produce a film adaptation of Peter Bacho’s award-winning 1991 novel CEBU.
CEBU won the American Book Award and is listed as one of the top 100 books written by a University of Washington writer in the past century. In 2008, the Asian Weekly honored Bacho as a literary Pioneer. In 2014, the screenplay was a finalist in the Beverly Hills film festival.
The film’s co-director and producer Virginia Travers recently answered a few questions about the project.
Tell us about CEBU
CEBU is a film based on the novel of the same name by Peter Bacho. It won the American Book award. It intertwines Filipino and American histories and cultures starting with the Japanese Invasion of WW2. The story of CEBU is seen from the perspective of Father Ben Lucero a first generation American-Filipino from Seattle, WA. He makes his first trip to the Philippines in the ‘80s, when he brings his mother’s body back to her hometown of Cebu for burial. He becomes corrupted and has an affair with his “Aunt’s” assistant after witnessing a crucifixion, and a run-in with the Marcos administration’s martial law. He returns to Seattle a broken priest, struggling with his identity and falling from grace.
How did you get involved with CEBU
Peter Bacho sent me a copy of his novel to see if I had any interest in developing it for the big screen. Until I read CEBU I had very little knowledge of Filipinos and Filipino American culture. As I was planning a trip to the Philippines I thought that it would be a good “travel” book for me to read. Actually two of the only things that I knew, about the Philippines was that they once had a First Lady who had five thousand pairs of shoes, and that the country was invaded by the Japanese in WW2.
What challenges have come up?
All films are a creative process. Every project takes many twists and turns until they get finished. One of the main challenges is finding investors who will take a chance on a film with a nearly all Filipino cast. CEBU is set in Seattle and the Philippines, so finding the perfect locations for the film is difficult. We are still considering San Francisco Bay Area to double for Seattle, and we will try to push for that. Finding a team that has the same passion for this story also could be considered a challenge.
Why did you decide to direct the film?
Actually my decision is to co-direct CEBU. When we finished the first draft of the screenplay Mark Meily signed on. He directed Crying Ladies and El Presidente. He resigned last September to teach in The Philippines. So now we had a new challenge – how do we pitch a film without a director? My decision came quite suddenly. We have been working on this project for two years now and know the story and characters. If we hire a new director at this stage they might have a different take on the plot and may want to have the script re-written. That could take another year. Co-directing with a seasoned director would ensure us that our vision would be fulfilled. We have two directors who have expressed interest in the project, and both are of Filipino decent. In the United States, the director carries the film from development to post. In the Philippines, it is not always the case. I need someone who has a clear knowledge of the Philippines, the culture and has a shared passion for the project.
What’s your next step?
We are starting on an Indiegogo campaign that may be ready to launch by April. In March, I will be in Manila meeting with potential investors, and putting together a team for the Philippines.
When can audiences expect to see the film on the big screen?
Once we’ve completed the film we will be going to Film Festivals with it. As CEBU is an independent film we would hope to get a distribution deal from various sources, such as Netfilx, Amazon, etc.