Joining a minority group in Philippine cinema, film director Samantha Lee is reclaiming the right to tell their stories, producing work with LGBTQ+ themes that are true to their lives. Her first feature film Baka Bukas, about two best friends who fall in love with each other, has won multiple awards.

Why is representing women and LGBTQ+ so important?

Representation validates existence. I want to be able to represent both women and the LGBTQ+ community in films that normalize us but at the same time expound on our commonalities; how we should be treated and who we could aspire to be. That’s also why I make it a point to hire a primarily all-female and LGBTQ+ cast and crew whenever I have a chance to make a film.

What was it like making your second film Billie and Emma?

It was almost unbelievable. Serendipity struck. The Hungry Young Poets’ Firewoman, the ‘90s classic which I had set my heart on but couldn’t afford to use, suddenly became obtainable. Barbie Almalbis, the original singer, even offered to record a new version especially for the film. It was one of those moments when things just came together: women helping women help women.

What are some films and music that have influenced you?

Rushmore by Wes Anderson — this was the film that made me want to make films. I saw it when I was on a break from film school. It made me love films and filmmaking again. Weak by Wet — I listened to this song continuously while writing Baka Bukas. I wanted to take the feeling that the song was trying to convey and translate it to a whole film.


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