'Baka Bukas' hits two international film festivals

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — Local independent film 'Baka Bukas' (Maybe Tomorrow ) is hitting international screens through two international queer-themed film festivals in the United States this year.

Baka Bukas will make its international debut at the Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival from June 15 to 25, followed by another screening at the Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival from July 6 to 16.

"It's exciting but at the same time it's so daunting, because the lineup of films - here, it's such a big deal that two girls kiss," the film's director Samantha Lee told CNN Philippines' The Source. "I'm excited to hear what people will say, but it's also scary."

Lee directed, co-produced, and wrote Baka Bukas, which is her first full-length feature film. The film follows Alex, played by Jasmine Curtis Smith, a twenty-something creative who falls in love with her best friend and rising actress Jess, played by Louise delos Reyes.

Lee, who identifies as lesbian, said the movie was born from a need to diversify how queer characters were portrayed in Philippine cinema outside of common stereotypes.

"It started out from a need to see myself in Philippine media. I always think that our movies are a reflection of society, so it was like some part of me just wanted my existence validated," Lee said.

"Instead of being a film that was like, 'These are all the problems of being gay in the Philippines,' I wanted people to want to come out," she added.

If there's one thing Lee hopes people take away from the movie, she said, it's that "love is universal."

"That's actually my favorite review that I get-when straight-identifying people come up to me and go, 'I cried during this part, 'cause that's really my life,'" she said. "I just want people to realize we all go through the same experiences, no matter what your gender preference is."

Frameline, also known as the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, has been running since 1977 and is considered the longest-running and most widely recognized LGBTQ film exhibition event. Outfest was founded in 1982.

Baka Bukas will play at Frameline alongside another Filipino film, the road trip comedy 'Patay na si Hesus' (Jesus is already dead) directed by Victor Villanueva.