Nervous Translation
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    Nervous Translation

    Directed by



    90 min

    • Filipino


    Late 1988, Post-dictatorship Philippines. Eight year-old Yael, shy to a fault, lives in her own private world. Left to her own devices while her mother assembles shoes at the local shoe factory, Yael cooks miniature meals for herself, sometimes forgetting about leftovers for dinner in the fridge. In the evenings, she cuts her mother’s white hair for 25 centavos a strand while they watch soap operas on television. Yael only knows her father through his voice through voice letters in the form of cassette tapes which he sends back every now and then from Saudi Arabia. Their boombox has a problem of ‘eating tape’, but this does not stop Yael from secretly listening to Father’s voice letters. One night, she accidentally records over a voice tape meant for her Mother.


    • The NETPAC Award - IFF Rotterdam



    Jana Agoncillo
    Angge Santos
    Sid Lucero
    Shireen Seno
    Albert Banzon
    Jippy Pascua
    Dennese Victoria
    John Torres
    Shireen Seno
    Itos Ledesma


    The remarkable talent of director Shireen Seno catches this narrow and magical universe, threatened by incomprehensible adults. Perceiving this world through the eyes and ears of this shy little girl becomes an exceptional and pleasant experience for the audience.

    Matteo Lovadina, ScreenDaily

    Nervous Translation shines in depicting the innocence of childhood in Yael. It captures how different adults and children perceive the simplicity and complexity of various matters.

    Tristan Zinampan, Screen Anarchy

    Shireen Seno

    Shireen Seno


    Visual artist and filmmaker Shireen Seno was born to a Filipino family in Japan. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Architectural studies and Cinema studies and taught in Japan before relocating to Manila. She started out in film as a photographer, shooting stills for Lav Diaz and John Torres. Her work has been exhibited in the Philippines at mag:net gallery, Green Papaya Art Projects, Manila Contemporary, and the Ishmael Bernal Gallery at the University of the Philippines Film Center. In 2012, she had her first two solo exhibits, MYSTERY TERRAIN at Republikha Gallery and WILD GRASS at Light & Space Contemporary. Her first full-length film, BIG BOY, produced by Cinema One Originals and Peliculas Los Otros, had its international premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2013. Seno's next film project, NERVOUS TRANSLATION, is one of 15 finalists for the Venice International Film Festival's inaugural Biennale College - Cinema 2013.

    Selected Filmography