PACIFIC ARTS MOVEMENT: First, congratulations for winning the Special Jury award at SXSW! Are you surprised at the success of your low-budget film?

NEILL DELA LLANA: It’s kind of surprising, but at the same time, we give ourselves a reality check every day because we’re still working at our 9-5 jobs where I get yelled at for trying to leave five minutes early. So it isn’t like our autographs are going for any money on Ebay.

PAC ARTS: Why did you and Ian Gamazon choose the subject of Filipino Muslims? And what do you want the audience to take away from the film?

LLANA: It’s a subject that really hasn’t been touched in Fil-Am cinema and we thought it would add a different and original “twist” to the character as opposed to the “oh-I’m-Filipino-trying-to-integrate-into-American-society” kinds of characters we’ve seen a thousand times. But from that twist evolved all kinds of racial, political, and religious issues, which worked to our benefit as well.

Ultimately we want the audience to take away the fact that there is more than one side to the war by extremists against the Western world. In a way, we tried to humanize that element—which was a challenge onto itself.

PAC ARTS: Any “war stories” in shooting the film?

LLANA: Haha! Lots! Every day was a war story. The people in the squatter camp thought we were a news reporting team (Ian the reporter and Neill the cameraman). I broke out in a heat rash. We also spent the last four days in the Philippines doing a 10-mall shopping spree. Most of the extras are Neill’s relatives. My real mom is used in the hostage pictures. We actually ran through Philippine rush hour traffic in the opening scene.

PAC ARTS: How have Filipino audiences responded to this film as opposed to non-Filipino audiences?

LLANA: Filipinos (especially native Filipinos) have responded positively because they’re from the country—they know what it’s like, that we weren’t trying to romanticize the image of the Philippines. I think they appreciated that we got down and dirty and showed what the reality is.

To non-Filipinos, I think they’re even more in awe because they get to see a side of the world that isn’t shown on the news everyday. We tried to show the experience from an American’s perspective.

PAC ARTS: What’s next for you?

LLANA: Ian and myself are working on several scripts and ideas trying to get our next project made, so hopefully that’ll catch on and we can keep on making movies!

CAVITE is scheduled to screen on Saturday, 10/1 at 8:15 pm and on Wednesday, 10/5 at 9:00 pm. Co-directors Neill dela Llana and Ian Gamazon are scheduled to attend.