Courtesy of Brigitte Lacombe
In 2019, Sandoval made history as the first trans woman of color to direct and star in a film screening in competition at the Venice Film Festival, where “Lingua Franca” premiered. The film was acquired and released by Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY and is now streaming on Netflix.
Sandoval directed, wrote, edited, produced and acted in “Lingua Franca,” which she shot in 16 days in Brooklyn, New York. Eamon Farren and the late Lynn Cohen also star in the film, in which Sandoval portrays an undocumented Filipina trans woman who secures a job as a live-in caregiver for an elderly Russian woman named Olga (Cohen) in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach neighborhood. But when she unexpectedly becomes romantically involved with Olga’s adult grandson Alex (Farren), issues around identity, civil rights and immigration threaten her very existence.
Since its debut, the critically acclaimed project (and the filmmaker’s third film) has been nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards, as well as outstanding film limited release at the GLAAD Media Awards and the best film at the BFI London Film Festival. “Lingua Franca” won the jury award for best narrative feature at the Bentonville Film Festival.
Sandoval’s latest project, “Shangri-La,” is the twenty-first commission from the Miu Miu Women’s Tales short film series, which invites female directors to “investigate vanity and femininity in the 21st century.” Sandoval wrote, directed and edited the project, which is set to premiere virtually this month.
The filmmaker is also developing “Vespertine,” a one-hour drama for FX, which she will also direct, and her next feature “Tropical Gothic.” The latter is described as a 16th-century colonial drama set in the Philippines, with themes in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” and Jane Campion’s “The Piano.”
In an August profile for Variety, Sandoval said she wants to “make films that linger; let the themes and emotions marinate. It’s not filmmaking with a megaphone or bullhorn. I set up limitations and tried to defy them.”
Sandoval continues to be represented by Team 713 Entertainment and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
Variety's Angelique Jackson and Carole Horst contributed to this story.