Nervous Translation

Nervous Translation

Dir: Shireen Seno / Philippines / 90 minutes / Filipino / 2017


Late 1988, Post-dictatorship Philippines. Eight year-old Yael, shy to a fault, lives in her own private world. Left to her own devices while her mother assembles shoes at the local shoe factory, Yael cooks miniature meals for herself, sometimes forgetting about leftovers for dinner in the fridge. In the evenings, she cuts her mother’s white hair for 25 centavos a strand while they watch soap operas on television. Yael only knows her father through his voice through voice letters in the form of cassette tapes which he sends back every now and then from Saudi Arabia. Their boombox has a problem of ‘eating tape’, but this does not stop Yael from secretly listening to Father’s voice letters. One night, she accidentally records over a voice tape meant for her Mother.

Director biography and filmography:

Shireen Seno was born to a Filipino family in Japan, where she spent most of her childhood. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Architectural studies and Cinema studies. She started out in film shooting stills for Lav Diaz and John Torres before going on to direct her debut feature, Big Boy, which premiered at Rotterdam 2013 and went on to screen at festivals in Jeonju (South Korea), Edinburgh, New Horizons (Poland), 3 Continents (France), and at institutions including Deutsches Historiches Museum Berlin, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Echo Park Film Center, among others. Big Boy was the opening film of Hors Pistes Tokyo, organized by the Centre Pompidou, and won the prize for Best First Film at the Festival de Cine Lima Independiente. Her next feature film project, Nervous Translation, was one of 15 projects of the Venice International Film Festival’s inaugural Biennale College – Cinema in 2013, a recipient of a Script & Project Development grant from the Hubert Bals Fund and a production grant from The Global Film Initiative, and was invited to IFP’s No Borders International Co-Production Market in 2013 and CineMart and Produire au Sud in 2014. Nervous Translation had its World Premiere at the 2018 International Film Festival Rotterdam in its prestigious Hivos Tiger Competition. She is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents 2014, Oberhausen Seminar 2015, and was 1 of 4 finalists in Film for the Rolex Mentorship & Protege Arts Initiative 2016-2017. Her films include Big Boy (2012) Shotgun Tuding (2014) and Nervous Translation (2018).


Producer – John Torres
Executive producer – Ronald Arguelles
Editor – Shireen Seno, John Torres
Cinematographer – Albert Banzon, Jippy Pascua, Dennese Victoria
Music – Itos Ledesma
Sound designers -Nicole Amores, John Michael Perez, Mikko Quizon, Kathrine Ariane Salinas
Miniature Design – Carl Joseph Papa


Jana Agoncillo, Angge Santos, Sid Lucero, Cocoy Lumbao