Nowhere Near

THE PHILIPPINES / 2023 / English, Tagalog / Color / DCP / 96 min

- Director, Script, Photography, Editing, Sound, Narration: Miko Revereza
Sound: Kevin T. Allen
Music: Vincent Yuen Ruiz
Producer: Shireen Seno
Production Company: Los Otros
Source, World Sales: Department of Stateless Images

Policies enacted during the Obama administration were supposed to put an end to the director’s “undocumented” status living in Los Angeles. As if to trace the history of how this happened, he searches for his ancestors’ land in the Philippines based on his grandmother’s hometown memories, and reconstructs her handwritten family tree. Using his at times witty inner voice, a very personal everyday US landscape emerges before the camera. He visits Luzon Island with his grandmother, where only a few relics of his ancestors remain to reflect the traces of Spanish, American, Japanese, and then again American, occupation. This road movie travels beyond the time the director attempted to interview his mother, and further—beyond the US and the Philippines. (WM)

[Director’s Statement] How does an undocumented documentary filmmaker document themself ?

This question has become an endless project of observing and representing myself and family waiting for sensible immigration reform in the United States. As time passed, I watched the disintegration of our American dreams. From August 1993 to 2019 we were held hostage by the systemic and psychological borders that trapped us in a perpetual post 9/11 era. And then, I left . . .

And flew 7000 miles from LA to Manila, leaving everything behind. This film is a poetic memoir through the lens of an exile returning to an estranged homeland. The film begins with an investigation into my family curse. A curse that followed us for generations, rooted in the soil of my grandma’s coastal province, where my ancestors once ruled the land they inherited from Spanish colonizers.

It is a land still bearing the remnants of colonial violence, first from Spain then America then our own onto each other.

My grandma likes to tell the story of MacArthur and the US troops landing at her local beach. She brags, that just down the front steps of her ancestral home. The American encampment stretched as far as her eyes could see. There was a big tent that functioned as a ballroom and bar, it was carpeted and there was a jazz symphony orchestra, is how she describes it. Her older sisters and cousins would wander there to go dancing. Even today there is a rotting concrete slab on that plot of land that the Americans left behind.

- Miko Revereza

Born in Manila, 1988, lives in Oaxaca. His upbringing as an undocumented immigrant and current exile from the United States informs a relationship towards moving images. Revereza’s titles include DROGA! (2014, YIDFF 2017), Disintegration 93–96 (2017, YIDFF 2017), No Data Plan (2018, YIDFF 2019), Distancing (2019), and The Still Side (2021, YIDFF 2021). Revereza is listed as Filmmaker Magazine’s 2018 “25 New Faces of Independent Cinema,” a 2019 Flaherty Seminar featured filmmaker, MFA graduate at Bard College Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and recipient of the 2021 Vilcek Prize in Filmmaking.