Set in 1987, soon after the People Power Revolution which led to the fall of president Marcos, Nervous Translation follows eight-year-old Yael. A shy and uneasy girl, she listens endlessly to the cassette tapes recorded by her father, who has spent years away from home working in Saudi Arabia. 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.

Yael's world is small and tender—she likes to play cooking on her mini stove—but the real world comes knocking: a typhoon approaches the Philippines. Giving a voice to this quiet girl in a perceptive, playful film full of jump cuts, sensitive sound design, '80s music and even an odd surrealist intermezzo, Seno empathetically captures the innocence and uncertainty of a child who doesn’t yet understand the world, although she is surrounded by it.

Introduction by filmmaker Shireen Seno

UK premiere of Nervous Translation presented jointly by BFMAF and Tate Modern

The film will be preceded by the 2018 Berwick New Cinema award presentation

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 exhibitions, '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 feature Nervous Translation was one of 15 finalists for the Venice International Film Festival's inaugural Biennale College Cinema 2013.


Nervous Translation (2018), Shotgun Trading (2014), Lovebird-watching (2012), Trunks (2012), Big Boy (2012), Seeing Machines (2006)