Nervous Translation


Director Shireen Seno

Year 2018

Lenght 90

Country Philippines

Language Tagalog

Screenplay Shireen Seno

Cinematography Albert Banzon, Jippy Pascua, Dennese Victoria

Music Itos Ledesma

Cast Jana Agoncillo, Angge Santos, Sid Lucero

Subtitles English

Genre Drama

Eight-year-old Yael is shy and not always at ease. She prefers writing letters and listen endlessly to the cassette tapes recorded by her father, who is spending years away from home working in Riyadh. Her uncle, a rock star with the band The Futures, acts as something of a surrogate father. When she hears an advertisement for a pen that will give her a ‘wonderful life’, she decides to spend all her savings on this miracle pen.

Nervous Translation is set in 1987, not long after the People Power Revolution that led to the fall of president Marcos. The film captures the confusing and magical moments alike in the life of a child who, although preferring to be by herself, deep down also longs to be heard. Shireen Seno gives a voice to this quiet little girl in her perceptive, playful film full of jump cuts, sensitive sound design and 80s music and even the odd surrealist intermezzo.


Shireen Seno (1983, Japan) was born in Tokyo to a Filipino family. She studied architecture and film studies at the University of Toronto. Her photo and video work has been shown in various galleries. She has worked with filmmakers such as Lav Diaz and John Torres, for whom she took stills. Her debut film Big Boy (2012) screened at IFFR and won the prize for Best First Film at the Festival de Cine Lima Independiente in 2013. Nervous Translation is her second feature.