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World Premiere of BALIKBAYAN: FROM VICTIMS TO SURVIVORS to Take Place at Edmonton International Film Festival

The world premiere will take place on October 7.

World Premiere of BALIKBAYAN: FROM VICTIMS TO SURVIVORS to Take Place at Edmonton International Film Festival

The production team behind the documentary, Balikbayan: From Victims to Survivors, has announced the world premiere for their film, to be screened in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Landmark Cinemas 9 City Centre, as part of the 2020 Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF).

"This film has been 13 years in the making and it's a real honour for us to launch it here at home, among the great films chosen for the 2020 EIFF," says Balikbayan Project founder and Edmontonian Jon Jon Rivero, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Vancouver-based filmmaker Rob Hillstead. "I can't wait to share our story with the audience."

The word "balikbayan" is the Tagalog word meaning "person who is returning to their homeland." The genesis of this film is a personal story for Rivero. An occupational therapist and trauma specialist, Rivero first visited his parents' homeland of the Philippines in 2006 while travelling with a performing arts troupe - he was keeping a promise to his late father, to discover his cultural roots.
"That trip lit a fire inside me. I knew I had to go back and it changed my life forever," Rivero recalls. Connecting his professional expertise with his personal mission, he founded the Balikbayan Project upon returning to Canada and has gone back to the city of Tacloban nine times, bringing other family and friends to volunteer with him. This is an extension of his work in Alberta as CEO of Qi Creative Inc., which provides success coaching for children, families and schools living with special needs and trauma.
Together, their work took a more active form of trauma support and disaster relief in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda) which devastated Tacloban in 2013. Balikbayan: From Victims to Survivors details Rivero and his team's journey to use self-expressive arts and sports to help street children heal and recover from the trauma around them.

The Edmonton premiere will be followed by a live, socially-distant Q&A with Rivero, co-writer and co-director Rob Hillstead and co-writer and co-producer Bernie Hernando.


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