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‘Toto’ bags New York festival’ stop prize

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JUST A THOUGHT: “Whatever you are willing to put up with is exactly what you will have.” – Anonymous

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BEST FILM IN NEW YORK FESTIVAL: Filmmaker John Paul Su’s award-winning debut feature film “Toto” took a bow in the Big Apple in a big way, selling out its screening at this year’s edition of the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF ’16) , and ultimately, winning the Audience Choice Award for Best Film.

The film’s director was on hand to receive the award during its closing ceremony at The Museum of the Moving Image.

“I’m truly grateful and thrilled at how the New York audience embraced the film,” shared the DGA (Directors Guild of America) award-winning director.

For John Paul Su, a graduate of New York University and a longtime resident of the city, the screening marked a sweet homecoming. During the screening, Su welcomed the audience with his personal story, “New York is where my filmmaking journey began. It’s in this same theater (the iconic Village East Cinema) where I screened my very first US-produced dramatic short. Eleven years later, I am back with my first feature length film.”

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew in attendance: John Paul Su, (Director, Writer, Producer), Donald Martin (Writer, Producer), Blake Boyd (Actor, Executive Producer), Carlo Cruz (Actor), Francisco Castelo (Story By), and Clarissa delos Reyes (Director of Photography).

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AMERICAN DREAM: “Toto” is the story of a dream, the American Dream, told from a unique Filipino angle. A young Filipino hotel worker in Manila (played by Sid Lucero) is fixated on getting to America, to New York, and he is willing to do anything to fulfill that dream, no matter the consequences. But when his obsession endangers the lives of those he loves, he must re-consider his actions.

“Toto” made its World Premiere in the Philippines by garnering eight nominations and four major awards (Special Jury Prize, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress) at the Metro Manila Film Festival’s New Wave Competition in December 2015.

The film went on to screen at several other major film festivals.

“Toto” held its LA premiere at The Los Angeles Comedy Festival in May, a popular breeding ground for crossover comedy franchises, where it won Best Foreign Feature Film and Best Actor (for Sid Lucero).

Top-billed by – awarded Filipino actor Sid Lucero, the film also stars Thou Reyes, Mara Lopez, Blake Boyd, Liza Diño, Neil Sese, BibethOrteza and RafaelRoco, Jr., and featuring, RafaSiguion-Reyna, Jelson Bay, MarnieLapus, Raul Montesa, Che Ramos, Carlo Cruz, and David Christopher. (NESTOR CUARTERO)