Nervous Translation


a film by Shireen Seno


Winner: NETPAC Award, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018

– UK premiere 19 September 2018, Tate Modern /

23 September 2018, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival –

Released in the UK & Ireland 5 April 2019


8 year old Yael is a shy girl, inquisitive yet withdrawn, and lives in her own private world. She prefers writing letters rather than joining in with her cousins and dancing to the delight of family members. She lives at home with her mother, while her uncle is in a rock band and is the only father figure around her. She has an absent father working in Saudi Arabia to help support the family back home. Her only connection with him is the recorded cassettes he sends her mother, which she listens to incessantly. One day she sees a TV advert for a pen that can translate nervous thoughts, so she starts saving and sets out to find this ‘magic’ pen.

Other festival selections:

International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018

Hong Kong International Film Festival 2018

Melbourne International Film Festival 2018


Director’s Statement

Shireen Seno, Finalist in Film

Nervous Translation is based on my experiences growing up as a shy child of the Filipino diaspora, unsure of myself, wanting to belong, and longing for a way to express that. It’s a portrait of the quintessential Filipino family nowadays, since the 80s, where we only see and hear fragments of each other, and always in spurts. 

Set in 1988, Nervous Translation seeks to recapture an important period in Philippine history and draw connections to the present day through issues that are still very familiar to us: the complexity of the family unit in light of migration, an obsession with consumer electronics and personal technology, and the sheer power of nature to remind us of our limits and about what really matters.





Written and Directed by: Shireen Seno

Produced by: John Torres

Executive Producers: Ronald Arguelles

Edited by: Shireen Seno And John Torres

Cinematography: Albert Banzon, Jippy Pascua, Dennese Victoria

Production Designer: Leeroy New

Music by: Itos Ledesma

Sound Design: Nicole Amores, John Michael Perez, Mikko Quizon, Kathrine Ariane Salinas

Miniature Design: Carl Joseph Papa

Cast: Jana Agoncillo, Angge Santos, Sid Lucero, Cocoy Lumbao



London – Tate Modern: 19 September 2018 – joint UK premiere

Berwick: Film & Media Arts Festival: joint UK premiere