Canadian Filipino artist, comedian and activist Sean Devlin won the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival’s (VIFF) Emerging Canadian Director Award for his debut film When the Storm Fades, a docudrama about a Filipino family whose lives were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013.
Nine awards were presented during VIFF’s BC Spotlight Gala held in Vancouver on October 6.
In this unique film, When the Storm Fades casts members of the Pablo family who re-enacted their personal experiences after the storm. The film’s story is supported by the comedic combination of two misguided “white saviours” played by Canadian actors Kayla Lorette and Aaron Read.
The Pablo family, mother Nilda, father Abner, daughter Lovely and son Arnel, are all non-actors. Devlin wrote the script which the Pablo family helped revise. Several Tacloban locals also participated in the film.
In a Youtube video posted by the director in 2017, Devlin relates how personal the film was, being born of a Filipino from Leyte. He recounts being personally affected in 2011 when his cousin lost her home to Typhoon Washi (Sendong).
Over the years, Devlin worked with climate change groups including the Climate Action Network. In the Youtube video, he notes, “When you look at the source that causes climate change, you see that the people most impacted by this crisis are tragically also the least responsible for it.”
Devlin hopes that When the Storm Fadeswill show how climate change directly affects people in their everyday lives. Half of the money raised will go directly at helping the Pablo family. “We don’t want to simply tell a story that raises awareness, we want to tell a story that raises the quality of life for the people to whom this story belongs,” says Devlin.
As an activist, Devlin is known for being arrested in 2014 after slipping on stage, with then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to protest the Conservative Party’s environmental policies.
When the Storm Fades screens on Thursday, October 18 at 8:30 p.m. at the Vancity Theatre in downtown Vancouver.