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Queer & Trans Filipinx American Visual Culture

Presented by the Programs in Gender and Sexuality at Haverford and Swarthmore. Film screenings on both campuses and a hybrid panel discussion with leading filmmakers and scholars. Events are free and open to the public.

Lingua Franca (2019) and filmmaker Q&A

Writer-director-star Isabel Sandoval presents her ground-breaking independent feature about an undocumented trans Filipina careworker, plus her short, Shangri-La (2021). A Sager Series event.

Tuesday, February 28, 7 PM
Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema, Swarthmore College

Still from Lingua Franca 

Call Her Ganda (2016) and filmmaker Q&A

PJ Raval presents his powerful documentary about the Filipina women who galvanize a nation, seeking justice for Jennifer Laude, a trans woman brutally murdered by a U.S. Marine.

Monday, March 20, 7pm
VCAM Screening Room, Haverford College

Still from Call Her Ganda

Panel: Queer & Trans Filipinx American Visual Culture

Tuesday, March 21, 7-8:30pm
VCAM Screening Room
Haverford College
*and virtually via Zoom
LINK to register for the virtual panel (
Moderated by Gina Velasco (Director, Haverford Program in Gender and Sexuality), this panel brings together filmmakers PJ Raval (Call Her Ganda) and Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca) with scholars Martin Manalansan (University of Minnesota) and Ryan Ku (Swarthmore College) to situate these films within Filipinx American and Asian American culture and social movements. More broadly, we consider the trajectory of queer and trans studies within the fields of Filipinx American and Asian American studies. This is a hybrid event that will allow for both in-person and online participation. Zoom participants: Please register here. For more information, email

Presented by the Program in Gender and Sexuality at Haverford College with support from the Doris Stevens Fund, the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies at Swarthmore College with support from the Sager Fund. Co-sponsored by the Hurford Center for the Humanities and Visual Studies at Haverford, the Tri College Asian American Studies Program, and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Bryn Mawr College. Organized by Gina Velasco, Haverford, and Patricia White, Swarthmore.

Panelist Bios:

Isabel Sandoval


Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe

Director, actress, writer, producer, and editor Isabel Sandoval is the Filipina filmmaker who made history at the Venice International Film Festival with the first film directed by and starring a trans woman of color ever to screen in competition. The film, Lingua Franca, is Ms. Sandoval's first feature filmed in the U.S. and her third feature as director. Following wide festival exposure, numerous accolades, and theatrical distribution via Ava DuVernay’s Array Now initiative, Lingua Franca is now available on Netflix.

Ms. Sandoval made her directorial debut with the noir-inflected Señorita, which world-premiered in competition at the Locarno Film Festival and earned her the Emerging Director Award at the Asian American International Film Festival. Her second feature as director was the Ferdinand Marcos-era nun drama, Apparition.  

She has recently directed an episode of the Netflix series, Burden of Heaven, and the short film, Shangri-La, for Miu Miu’s ongoing series of short films by women directors, Women’s Tales. Sandoval is currently completing a much-anticipated feature, Tropical Gothic, and developing a television series called Vespertine. She is featured in Temple film professor Elisabeth Subrin’s acclaimed short film, Maria Schneider, 1983, and will join the filmmaker at the Philadelphia premiere on March 1 at the Lightbox Film Center

PJ Raval



PJ Raval is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer whose work explores the overlooked subcultures and identities within the already marginalized LGBTQ+ community. Named one of Out Magazine's "Out 100" and Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film," PJ’s film credits include Trinidad (Showtime, Logo) and Before You Know It, which follows the lives of three gay senior men, described by indieWIRE as "a crucial new addition to the LGBT doc canon." Before You Know It screened theatrically and broadcast premiered as the season finale of America ReFramed on PBS, and was recently awarded the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association Excellence in Documentary Award 2016. Also an accomplished cinematographer, PJ shot the Academy Award-nominated Best Documentary, Trouble the Water. PJ is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, 2016 Firelight Media Fellow, and a 2017 Robert Giard Fellow.

Ryan Ku


Ryan Ku is Visiting Assistant Professor of English Literature at Swarthmore College. He earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, with a Critical Theory Certificate, from the University of California, Irvine, and was previously the inaugural Postdoctoral Associate in Asian American Studies at Duke University. A specialist in Asian American and Southeast Asian literatures after World War II, he is at work on his first book project, Imperial Wounds: Filipino/American Novels and Late Modernity, which reads multiethnic American novels as postcolonial texts by reading them with Filipino novels. His writings have appeared in American Imago, Kritika Kultura, and The Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction and he has two articles in progress on Asian American literature: one on Dogeaters and the other one on Insurrecto.

Martin F. Manalansan IV



Martin F. Manalansan IV is the Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts and Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is the author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora (Duke University Press, 2003; Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2006). His forthcoming book is entitled Queer Dwellings: Mess, Mesh, Measure. He is editor/co-editor of five anthologies and has published in numerous journals including GLQ, Antipode, Cultural Anthropologypositions: east asian cultural critique, and Radical History, among others.  Among his awards are the Ruth Benedict Prize from the American Anthropological Association in 2003, the Excellence in Mentorship Award in 2013 from Association of Asian American Studies, the Richard Yarborough Mentoring Prize in 2016 from the American Studies Association and the Crompton-Noll Award for the best LGBTQ essay in 2016 from the Modern Language Association Queer Caucus. 

Moderator Bio:

Gina Velasco



Gina Velasco is Associate Professor and Director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality at Haverford College. She also serves on the steering committee of the Tri College Asian American Studies Program. Dr. Velasco holds a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her book, Queering the Global Filipina Body: Contested Nationalisms in the Filipina/o Diaspora was published in the Asian American Experience series of the University of Illinois Press in 2020. Her writing has been published in Amerasia Journal, Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, the International Feminist Journal of Politics, the Review of Women's Studies, Alon: Journal for Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies, and the edited collection, Asian American Feminisms and Women of Color Politics (University of Washington Press, 2018).


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