Films is proud to present SMALL VOICES.
VOICES is a critically acclaimed film from the Philippines which presents one young idealistic teacher's struggle to enrich
the lives of her students through music.
SMALL VOICES is the first film to be distributed in the US which was produced
solely in the Philippines and spoken completely in the country's indigenous Tagalog language.
Sky Island Films holds
all US rights to the film-Theatrical, Non-theatrical, Pay TV, Video and DVD.
Below you will find the SMALL VOICES press
book, stills, and list of theatrical bookings.
SMALL VOICES PRESS BOOK
Directed By Gil M. Portes
Screenplay By Gil M. Portes
Adolfo B. Alix Jr. and Senedy H. Que
Produced By Gil M.Portes and Ray
SMALL VOICES CAST
MELINDA- ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI
MRS. PANTALAN- DEXTER DORIA
CHAYONG- GINA ALAJAR
LUZ- AMY AUSTRIA
POPOY- BRYAN HOMECILLO
FE- IRMA ADLAWAN
SOLITA- MALOU CRISOLOGO
MR. TIBAYAN- TONY MABESA
PILAR- LAILANI NAVARRO
SMALL VOICES is the intricately observed story of an idealistic teacher who challenges the cynicism and strictures of life
in a poverty-stricken Philippine village by reaching her young students through music. Inspired by a true story, SMALL VOICES
exposes audiences to a culture that has rarely been detailed on film.
"Only the rich can afford to dream.
These are the words of a child growing up in rural Malawig, the remote Philippine province where
Melinda Santiago (Alessandra de Rossi) arrives to pursue her dream of educating deserving children. Melinda finds a community
stripped of hope.
Malawig, like many struggling villages in the Philippine provinces, is fueled by government graft
and run by cynical functionaries. Poverty has made the townspeople passive, yet some of the men join guerilla fighting units
in the mountains, staking their lives on some kind of change.
Melinda has forsaken her family's desire to repatriate
to the United States where life is easier. It is at Malawig Elementary School, where Melinda meets her lively pupils, a group
of children eager to learn and grateful to find solace from the rice fields and farm labor.
Melinda is initially
as tentative and humble as the villagers she meets, but she begins to witness practices that clash with her quiet integrity.
Her poorly trained fellow schoolteachers routinely exploit their young charges for housecleaning; the school principal sells
ice candy to the pupils to add to her personal coffers. Teacher salaries are delayed for months, requiring them to obtain
salary advances from the village's "Bombay"-the local Indian merchant-with interest.
Rain streams through
the jerry-rigged school roofs, drenching lesson plans, books and students' expectations and the children are relocated to
Melinda continues to encounter barriers that affect her heartfelt attempts to teach. Parents
order their boys to absent themselves during planting season. Mothers urge their daughters to give up schooling - girls
are thought to be worthy only of marriage and for raising children. Melinda is heartbroken to learn that the reason two brothers-talented
vocalists - are never at her chorus practices at the same time is because they can afford only one school uniform.
Despite the townspeople's enormous resistance, Melinda and her pupils enter a regional singing contest. It is Melinda's
focus and conviction that keeps the group on course. The children's song kindles a small flame of hope, a daring to dream,
and a willingness to fight for it.
Their small voices can finally be heard!
# # # # #
A Sky Island Films release
Unrated by the MPAA
Running time: 105 minutes
In Tagalog with English subtitles
GIL M. PORTES
Writer/Director Gil M. Portes is one of the Philippines most prominent independent
filmmakers. SMALL VOICES, his twenty-fifth feature film, was the official Philippine submission to the 2003 Academy Awards
and the Golden Globes.
Because Mr. Portes's films often tackle controversial Philippine political matters and
taboo subjects, they are widely acknowledged by enthusiastic film festival audiences and have garnered numerous awards. Both
of his most recent films, SARANGGOLA ("The Kite") 1999, and GATAS...SA DIBDIB NG KAAWAY ("In the Bosom of the
Enemy") 2001, have been the Philippines' Official Entries to the Academy Awards.
Mr. Portes's 1994 film, BUKAS
MAY PANGARAP about a peasant couple who are victims of an illegal overseas recruitment, was a commentary on his country's
immigration pattern. MARKOVA: COMFORT GAY is the true story of a half Jamaican, half Filipino man who was forced to be a
sex slave during the Japanese occupation in World War II. Mr. Portes was inspired to create SMALL VOICES after learning about
his niece's teaching experiences in a rural, Communist rebel-controlled village.
SMALL VOICES is Portes's first
film to have a national U.S. theatrical release. Dave Kehr of the New York Times praises the film as "heartfelt, well-made
and worthy of attention"
# # # # #
ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI
De Rossi, a rising dramatic actress in the Philippines, was first noticed by the international press for her role in AZUCENA
("Dogfood"), Carlos Siguion-Reyna's controversial film which premiered at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival.
She received the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in HUBOG ("Wretched Lives"), in which she played
a slow-witted young woman growing up in the slums.
For SMALL VOICES, Ms. De Rossi was nominated in the Best Actress
category at virtually all the film festivals in which the film premiered.
In addition to her film roles, Ms. De
Rossi is well known to Philippine audiences for her popular television series IT'S COOL, a sitcom in which she plays an unrequited
# # # # #
DIRECTOR OF SMALL VOICES
GIL. M. PORTES
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q. What inspired you to make this film?
A. I was moved by my niece's experiences teaching in a rural village.
My niece, who is very progressive and idealistic, was shocked by the conditions. She told me about two brothers, gifted singers,
that were in her classroom. They were never in school at the same time. If one attended class, the other was absent. My
niece didn't notice this until she organized a choral group. Naturally, the two boys were asked to participate. During rehearsals,
they were never together. When she finally investigated the situation by going to the boys' home, she not only discovered
that the family was very poor; the brothers had to share one school uniform.
Q.How true-to-life is this story?
A.Any Filipino will find the scenarios set in the provincial school all-too-familiar. When, years later, I read an article
about school kids being used as farmhands by their parents, I remembered the plight of the two brothers. Together with my
writers, we researched rural child labor and decided to dramatize the story using my niece as the central character.
Q. Given that the film is critical of the Philippine education system, how were you able to raise financing?
first, producers and investors we approached wouldn't touch the project with a ten-foot pole. The reasons were varied: not
commercial enough, too negative. Then the Manila Film Festival was revived by Mayor Lito Atienza. A scriptwriting contest
was instituted and the objective was to select six scripts that mirror the aspirations of Filipinos for a better life. The
mayor personally invited me to participate because of my track record. We were told that SMALL VOICES was a semi-finalist.
However, the formal announcement of the winners took place, SMALL VOICES was surprisingly and suspiciously shut out. Instead
the Festival selected formulaic melodramas and action pictures. We were very discouraged until the College Assurance Plan
of the Philippines (CAP) came to the rescue. CAP, which develops educational plans, saw an opportunity to support a film
that champions the values of formal education. The company funded the film unhesitatingly.
Q.How do you think
this film can make a difference in your country?
A.Many non-governmental organizations saw the film and were inspired
by it. They became more aware of the problems prevailing in the country's education system. An influential newspaper also
published an editorial on the film-elucidating its merits. Although the Philippine film industry has been producing a volume
of films, it is predominantly broad commercial fare. Through SMALL VOICES I am starting to see the growing potential of a
more mature and intelligent film audience in my country.
Q.It seems that Alessandra de Rossi has become your muse,
How did you discover her?
A.Casting the Melinda role was a very meticulous process. I was determined
to find an actress who didn't look too glamorous; Filipino actors are known predominantly for their glamour and good looks.
Alessandra and I work together quite organically-she responds instinctively to direction and her motivations are very pure.
When it came to casting THE HOMECOMING, my next film, I conceived the story with her in mind as my lead-she has a fluid, versatile
Q.Why do you choose to locate all your films in the Philippines?
A.Although I live in New York,
The Philippines is still my home. I was born there, grew up there, and as much as possible, I want to dramatize on screen
stories that I experienced and witnessed as I was growing up. These are stories that carry a universal message that can be
appreciated all over the world.
Q. Can you tell us about the circumstances of making this film?
A. We were
lucky that, even though we were shooting in the month of April, we weren't plagued by rain at all. The villagers were supportive
of our process and they sensed that we were making an important film. They were so eager to see that our needs were met;
they supplied us with clean drinking water that they fetched from the stream and gave us native fruits and exquisite soft
Alessandra de Rossi as Melinda in SMALL VOICES.
A Sky Island Films Release.
Alessandra de Rossi as Melinda with the children in
A Sky Island Films Release.
SMALL VOICES PLAYDATES
Lumiere San Francisco, CA
Towne,San Jose, CA
UA Metro Center 6 Colma,CA
UA Galaxy,San Francisco, CA
Asian Film Fest San Diego, CA
Village East NYC
Music Hall,Los Angeles, CA
University, Irvine, CA
Town Center, Encino, CA
Hazard Center,San Diego, CA
Row, Honolulu, HI
Rancho Del Rey, Chula Vista, CA
Village Square, Las
Angelika, Dallas, TX
Angelika, Houston, TX
Green Valley, Las Vegas, NV
San Mateo, Albuquerque, NM
Maui Megamall, Maui, HI
Westlake Twin, Westlake Village, CA
Madstone Cary, Cary, NC
Plaza de Oro, Santa Barbara, CA
Guam Megamall, Tamuning, Guam
Tower, Sacramento, CA
Westby Playhouse, Tulsa, OK
Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL
Camelot,Palm Springs, CA
Fox Tower, Portland, OR
Stockton City Centre Cinemas, Stockton, CA
Briarwood Mall, Ann Arbor, MI
Osio Cinemas, Monterey, CA
Orpheum Theater, Madison,WI
Little Art Theater, Yellow Springs, OH
State University, Dominguez Hills, CA
Harris Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Tidewater Community College, Virginia Beach, VA
As of 10/19/04