'Expats' Star Ruby Ruiz James J. Directing Robinson's 'First Light'

Independent Entertainment has boarded the Australian-Philippines co-production, which has now started shooting.

Multi-award winning Filipina actress Ruby Ruiz has landed her first big screen role following her appearance in Amazon's „Expats.” He will be helming James' directorial debut “First Light”. J. Robinson.

Principal photography is now underway on the Australian-Philippines co-production funded by Screen Australia. Legendary actresses Maricel Soriano („Nanny Mother”), Res Cortes („Bugal”), Soliman Cruz („Blue Room”) and Kidlat Tahimik round out the cast.

Set in the remote mountains of the Philippines, „First Light” sees the death of a young construction worker force an elderly nun to confront the murky ethics of the company she has devoted her life to. The script, written by Robinson, is a deeply personal story that explores the intersections of duty, trust and institutional power.

„Making 'First Light' over the past two years has been an incredibly deep journey into the heart of pre-colonial Philippine philosophy,” said Robinson. “To be able to bring artists from Australia and the Philippines together to tell a story and see this cultural exchange in real time will be one of the most enlightening experiences of my life; As a mixed-race artist, it reflects a profound journey within me to define my identity and ancestry.

Gabriel Pearson is producing „First Light” through his outfit, Majella Productions, along with Christelle Tysongo of Clu Media Productions, with support from Screen Australia in association with the Film Development Council of the Philippines, Clu Media Productions, the Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund and VicScreen. and Jane Pe Aguirre („A Prayer Before Dawn”), one of the Philippines' most respected and longest-serving producers. Good Thing Productions' Nick Patzias and Virginia Whitwell (“Nydram,” “The Australian Dream”) serve as executive producers.

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“For our first official feature production under the Majella umbrella, learning about the intersection between Filipino and Australian work styles is one of the many gems of international co-production,” said Pearson. „In the future of global filmmaking, recognizing the ways in which diverse cultures around the world can reveal the universality in their experiences provides a path toward more inclusive filmmaking and a more complex view of the human condition.”

Independent Entertainment has boarded the film and will handle global sales, excluding Australia and New Zealand, where Bonsai Films will distribute the film theatrically.

Robinson is a renowned Filipino-Australian artist with an extensive career in photography and filmmaking. His work has regularly appeared in publications such as The New York Times and Vogue Australia, where he has photographed some of the world's biggest names, including Kylie Jenner, Sydney Sweeney, Rose Byrne and Harris Dickinson. His Filipino short documentary “Inang Manila” was acquired by Navnes and premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival in 2022, while his previous short “No Reception” was part of the 2018 TIFF x Instagram Shorts Program in 2018.

„'First Light' is a captivating blend of Filipino and Australian creativity that explores themes of death, hope and self-discovery,” said Screen Australia COO Grainne Brunsdon. „With universal resonance, this film promises viewers an engaging journey.”

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