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Set in an unspecified future at the precarious edge of humanity’s possible extinction, "The Boat People" follows a group of children led by a strong-willed and resourceful little girl, who travel the seas and collect the stories of a world they never knew through objects that survived through time.
Calling themselves The Boat People, the group finds objects amongst the ruins of human civilization, spread through the seas. They replicate objects that resonate with them in wood as a way to try and piece together a history they are trying to understand. They then burn the carvings for reasons that have long been forgotten.
The Boat People arrive in a place formerly known as Bataan and come into contact with the rich layers of intermingled histories and eras embedded in the coast. They encounter objects from a refugee crisis, a world war, and some of the earliest migrations in human history. The little girl encounters a mysterious statue head buried in the sand. They engage in a dialogue that not only explores concepts of a future and a past world through an existential lens, but also gives us a look into the reasons behind this group’s mysterious ritual of burning their beautifully hand-carved replicas.
"The Boat People" was produced in collaboration with Bellas Artes Projects in Bataan, Philippines. The production team was composed of cinematographer Andrew Yuyi Truong, research assistant Jane Pujols, 1st Camera Assistant Rhon Bacal, and the Bellas Artes Team. Nguyen cast five children from the local fishing village in Bagac, Bataan as the main characters of the film. Making their film debut are Gryshyll Reyes Ilarina as Riana, Michael Mendoza Soronio, John Carlos Cruz Moris, Jescee Dheivid Taba Recinte, and Benedict Recinte Revelo. The film was shot in the different areas of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Mt. Samat, the Nuclear Powerplant Village, and the Phillipine Refugee Processing Center.