For the past months, Filipino-Canadian Patrick Alcedo from Toronto has been making waves in the international film festival circuit with his documentaries: They Call Me Dax, A Will to Dream, and Am I Being Selfish?.
They Call Me Dax tells the story of a 15-year-old girl trying to survive as a high school student and ballet dancer. It is a 10-minute documentary which sheds light on the ability of dance to empower the marginalized. To date, it has won Best Short Documentary at the Cannes Indies Cinema Awards 2021; Best Dance Short Documentary, Silk Road Film Festival Awards in Cannes, France; Nominee, Best Short Documentary, Phoenix Shorts; Official Selection, New York Independent Cinema Awards, and International Short Films Festival.
A Will to Dream is a feature-length documentary on a Philippine ballet star who gave up his US green card, to teach dance to underprivileged children In the Philippines. It has won Best Dance Feature Documentary, Silk Road Film Festival Awards in Cannes, France; Award Winner, Hong Kong Indie Film Festival; and an Official Selection at the Cannes International Film Festival, Chicago Indie Film Awards, the New York Independent Cinema Awards and Toronto Film Magazine Fest.
Am I Being Selfish? focuses on the life of a male dancer who, despite financial obstacles, teaches ballet to disadvantaged children, while supporting his wife and children. This documentary has won Best Short Inspirational Documentary at Silk Road Film Festival Awards in Cannes, France; and Official Selection at International Shorts, and Lift-Off Online Sessions.
Patrick Alcedo, writer, director and producer of these documentaries, is the Chair of the Department of Dance, and Associate Professor of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design, at York University. He is a dance ethnographer and a specialist on Philippine traditional dances, whose work “focuses on performance of gender, folklorization of religion, and world dance in the diaspora”. Patrick hails from Aklan. He danced with the Filipiniana Dance Group, earned his BA at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, PhD in Dance History and Theory, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Southeast Asian Studies, both from the University of California, Riverside. He was a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow in Theorizing Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution.
Patrick’s earlier film works include: Ati-Atihan Lives; A Piece of Paradise, about the everyday and extraordinary lives of Filipina caregivers in Toronto; Boxing in the Shadow of Pacquiao, a video project produced with The New York Times; Dancing Manilenyos - comparing the lives of a poor male dancer to that of a rich, privileged female dancer who are members of Ballet Philippines. Ati-Atihan Lives was a nominee at the Gawad Urian (Manila Film Critics Circle). A Piece of Paradise won the top prizes National Bank Best Feature Film Award, and Centennial Best Canadian Film Award, at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. An opening film at the 2019 Cinemalaya Film Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, his Dancing Manilenyos was an official selection at the 2019 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase, received an Award of Merit at Global Shorts in Los Angeles, California, and an Award of Recognition from the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Award.
Patrick’s portfolio however, is not just confined to films. He’s had publications in: the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies; an anthology in Dance Ethnography and Global Perspectives; and with Playwrights Canada Press. He has also facilitated joint projects between York University and Philippine institutions.
With such a prodigious output, it is not surprising that Patrick has been conferred numerous awards and recognition: Quincentennial Award 2021, Philippine Consulate General Toronto; York Research Leader, 2019; President’s University-Wide Teaching Award 2019, which put his name on York University’s Hall of Fame; Golden Balangay Award for Pinoy of the Year, 2017; Early Researcher Award 2014 by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation; Selma Jeanne Cohen Award for International Dance Scholarship by the Fulbright Association of America, 2014; and the Young Professional Award 2012 by the Filipino Centre Toronto, among others.
Although armed with experience and academic achievements earned in the Philippines and the US, Patrick still lived through the difficulties of adjusting to life in Canada like any other immigrant, i.e. cold winters, homesickness, and the desire for family reunification in Canada. In his film A Piece of Paradise, he says in a media release “I hope that you will find their stories and their journeys not only moving, but also gentle reminders that no matter how challenging a situation may be, how far we are from our homes and loved ones, and how foreign Canada may be at times, we have resources within and around us to find our own small-or even large pieces of paradise.” For Patrick, filmmaking serves as a platform in expressing his experiences, in disseminating his research on dance and culture, and his “teaching and promotion of Filipino expressive culture within the Philippines and in the diaspora”. In another interview, Patrick expressed “As to my goals for the Filipino community in Canada, I dream that it will continue to prosper in terms of the roles Filipinos will play in various industries and professions... that we become major movers and shakers in other fields, such as business, media, law, governance, research, education, and the arts.”
Patrick Alcedo had this dream, and the will to pursue it. He has indeed become a major mover and shaker. And more laurels are anticipated to come his way.
Remember his name, Patrick Alcedo - the dancer, teacher, filmmaker, Filipino. In his journey, he has evidently found his paradise. And with that, he makes us proud. Bravo Patrick!
* This article was published in the August 2021 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.
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