Touched by "Diwa"

Very rarely do I watch a movie that affects me so deeply and stays with me long after the credits have ended. This was the case when I watched the short film, “Diwa.” I had seen the poster and promos on social media and kept reminding myself to do some research and look into it. I had assumed that it was a story of a young woman; probably illegally residing in the US.  Here I was thinking it had something to do with President Trump, his views on immigration, DACA or building the wall. Boy was I wrong.

Aina Dumlao as Diwa

Aina Dumlao as Diwa

As I told Aina Dumlao, the lead actress and the co-director, co-writer, and co-producer of “Diwa”, the movie was so much more than that. It resonated with me for so many reasons. Although I am a Filipina-American and have never experienced Diwa’s situation, I have heard and know of many Filipinos who have come to America in hopes of a better life, and to help their family back home – my grandparents, relatives, acquaintances, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, as in life, there are so many unknowns and life isn’t always fair. I’ve heard the many tales.  “Diwa”, as the filmmakers state, “is a true story many times over…Diwa is a fictional character, but her story is not.”

I love films that make you think, ask, and feel what the character (and sometimes characters) are going through even though you’ve never been in their shoes. This is exactly what Diwa did.  I felt….and asked...soooo many questions…Have you ever felt so alone? What would you do if you felt you had nowhere else to go? If you saw no light at the end of the tunnel? How would I react if someone treated me unfairly? Would I have the courage? How did my empathy and understanding for undocumented workers change so much after watching this film? Why did this film affect me so much? I could go on…

“Diwa” is more than a film about immigrants and the racial injustices of our world. It is an emotional, powerful and heartbreakingly sad but often true story that deals with false hope, lost dreams, survival and a strong sense of family.

I truly hope you go out and support this film which is making it's way through various film festivals.  And if you are in Southern California this weekend, Diwa will have a world premiere and more importantly can make it an Academy Award contender at this weekend’s Dances with Films event.

The 21st Dances with Films screening will take place on Saturday, June 9th at 5pm, at the historic TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood.

For more info, you can head to