Lingua Franca

Director: Isabel Sandoval
2019 | USA/Philippines | 95m
GENRE: Discrimination | Drama | South East Asian | Transgender
SECTION: Live Q&A's | Narrative Features
Expected Guests: Features LIVE Q&A with director, screenwriter, actor, producer Isabel Sandoval, actor Ivory Aquino, producer Carlo Velayo and cinematographer Isaac Banks


With her third feature, multi-hyphenate filmmaker Isabel Sandoval ( Señorita, Frameline36) dazzles behind and in front of the camera in this heartfelt and semi-autobiographical docudrama, which made its world premiere last fall at the Venice Film Festival.

Olivia (Sandoval), an undocumented trans woman from the Philippines, supports herself and her family back home by working as a caretaker in Brooklyn for an elderly Russian Jewish woman named Olga (an exceptional Lynn Cohen, best known as Magda from Sex and the City, in one of her final performances). Olivia’s frequent and at times overwhelming fear of deportation escalates dramatically when the man she has been paying for a green card gets cold feet; but her life takes an unexpected turn when a romantic connection starts to blossom with Olga’s black sheep grandson Alex ( The Witcher’s Eamon Farren). With the threat of ICE raids always hovering in the background, Lingua Franca takes a sobering, timely, and eloquent look at the anxieties and fears that plague both immigrants and transgender people today, not just in the U.S., but across the globe.

This film is a recipient of a Frameline Completion Fund Grant.

Buying note: This is a digital screening, available to view between 12:01am Thursday, June 25 and 11:59pm Sunday, June 28. We suggest watching it at 4:00pm Sunday, June 28 followed by the live Q&A.



  • Language: English, Cebuano, Tagalog and Russian with English subtitles
  • Premiere Status: Bay Area