‘To Ken with Love’ premiering at NewFilmmakers LA’s fest
LOS ANGELES — Filipino American Mike Talplacido’s short film To Ken with Love is premiering on June 17 at New Filmmakers Los Angeles’ monthly film festival.
The film focuses on Ken Jones, a flamboyant talk show host who relishes being the “whitest gaysian ever.” Ken’s perfectly curated world of glitz and glamour is suddenly rocked by a work incident involving his network TV executive boss, along with the arrival of Marikit, a young Fil-Am intern. He also has to contend with the reappearance of his mother, who he has not seen in decades.
Ken’s colorful persona belies internalized racism. He does not see himself as Asian and the one thing he really wants is to be accepted and validated by white people. Ken must deal with the toxic tokenism at work and carve a path towards embracing his roots and identity. Will Ken find a way toward finding out who he really is?
First-time filmmaker Talplacido says, “The film is a story about family, relationships and the journey towards finding one’s true authentic self.”
Talplacido has written the screenplay, directs and plays Jones. Fil-Ams in the cast include Pinky Albea, Jefferson Carvey, Marco Torres, and Ashley Rapunao.
Seasoned actress Maria Isabel Lopez, plays Jones’ mother in the film,
Lopez performs alongside her daughter Mara Lopez, who is essaying the role of Marikit.
The film also features costumes designed by Kenneth Barlis, who was a finalist on the 19th season of Project Runway.
Other Fil-Ams involved in the production include director of photography Luke Dejoras, music composer Jamie Pangan, editor Seth Dacio and co-Producer: Julian Bataclan.
For June, coinciding with Pride Month, the film series’ programming focus is “LGBTQ+ Cinema.” Talplacido says, “This film is my love letter to the gay Asian community. This story needs to be told now.
“There’s still a lot of negative stigma towards the LGBTQ community. While there has been a strong momentum going on for diversity and inclusion, there is still so much more that we need to do to further create change and make a positive impact.
“I was inspired to tell this story because it is something that I have seen in my own community. I realize much of this phenomenon was really a result of internalized racism. As a Filipino American and an
Asian American, I have seen so many of us struggle with our own identities. Many of us have felt ‘not enough’ and, as such, have chosen to stay away from our own identities and culture.
“Worst, a few others I know have even ‘hated’ themselves for being who they are. Myself included at some point in the past. It is important for actions to start from within ourselves. We must smash every bit of notion related to internalized racism. We must learn to love who we are and embrace our unique beauty,” he says.
Maria Isabel Lopez echoes the need for a more accepting society. “At the end of the day, all we need is love. I love the story and the message behind the film,” she says.
Talplacido hopes to enter the film in other upcoming film festivals in the US and internationally. For organizations interested in screening the film, email firstname.lastname@example.org.