This Cannes docu celebrates PH’s Xyza Mizrahi and other Southeast Asian voguing pioneers

Philippine ballroom culture is in the spotlight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival through a documentary feature called “Tens Across the Borders” by Singapore-based dancer and filmmaker Chan Sze-Wei. It features House of Mizrahi’s Mother Xyza Ragunjan and a vogue ball she hosted outside the metro. 

“Tens Across the Borders” is among the films presented in the Cannes Docs – Marché du Film Docs-in-Progress Docs by the Sea showcase on May 22. It follows the stories of three LGBTQIA+ trailblazers developing the vogue and ballroom scenes in Southeast Asia: Aurora Sun Labeija of Thailand, Teddy Neverland Oricci of Malaysia, and Xyza Mizrahi of the Philippines. 

“I am so honored to be telling the stories of the trailblazers of underground ballroom (the ballroom of ‘Paris is Burning’ and ‘Pose’) in Southeast Asia: Sun Phitthaya Phaefuang, Teddy Ong Xing Kai, Xyza Ragunjan, their children and the beautiful communities that they are building for LGBTQIA+ folk and all allies seeking a haven from discrimination in too many shades, and honoring the histories of the pioneers, icons, and legends of ballroom,” wrote Chan.

Anakbanwa Creative Residency Project shared that the film features shots from Ragunjan’s Anakbanwa residency in 2022 where she also hosted the Aralem Ball, the first-ever vogue ball held in Pangasinan.

And “Tens Across the Borders” isn’t the only film with a Filipino narrative to be shown on the Cannes 2023 screens. The Film Development Council of the Philippines previously announced that Marché du Film will be holding exclusive screenings of four Filipino films: Richard Somes’ action thriller “Topakk,” J.E. Tiglao’s “Her Locket,” Ato Bautista’s crime thriller “Grace,” and Vince Tañada’s “I Am Ninoy” musical drama based on the life of the late former Sen. Ninoy Aquino.

Joining “Tens Across the Borders” in the Docs-In-Progress program is  Seán Devlin’s documentary “Asog” on non-binary teacher Jaya who goes on a road trip to compete in a drag pageant and, in the process, is changed by encounters with communities still reeling from the aftermath of previous typhoons in the country.

Other Filipino projects arriving at Cannes for funding and coaching  opportunities as well as meetings with potential investors are Arvin Belarmino’s “Ria,” Jan Carlo Natividad’s “The Art of Detaching One’s Memory,” and Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan’s “Hum.” 

Philippine cinema and narratives deserve to be on the world stage.


Photo from Cannes

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Amrie Cruz: Amrie is a nonbinary writer who likes to talk about politics and viral animal videos. They have a dog daughter named Cassie who doesn’t go to school.