For the four Basco brothers, it’s all about family. And food. And fond memories growing up in the East Bay city of Pittsburg.
And friends. It’s about friends.
Oh, and it’s also about film. And being Filipino American. And, with each in their 40s, all of the aspects of their lives met at the intersection of “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.” The first of a scheduled 20-city tour screening of the 99-minute film was scheduled for Friday at the Empress Theatre in downtown Vallejo.
Then came the latest COVID numbers in Solano County. As a result, the event has been canceled.
Despite “state-of-the-art sanitation equipment, requiring proof of vaccination and taking every precaution, patrons are getting nervous about buying tickets,” said Susan MacDonald, board member of the Vallejo Center for the Arts that oversees the Empress.
Rochelle Frias-Del Rosario, chairperson of the Philippine Cultural Committee, confirmed the cancelation Monday.
“It was decided that for the safety of the community and for each other, we decided to cancel this Jan. 7 event,” Frias-Del Rosario said.
The show will go on for “Fabulous Filipino Brothers” with Friday added to Saturday’s screening at the Regal in San Francisco and Sunday at the Regal in Sacramento, much to the Basco family’s relief early Monday when they gathered for a conference call interview.
For the film, director/writer/actor/producer Dante Basco, 46, corralled the family — including their parents — into a handful of vignettes inspired by real events. That included brothers Darion, Derek, and Dionysio — aka Dion.
The brothers joined the 30-minute chat from their homes in Southern California, headquarters since leaving the Bay Area in the mid-1980s after gaining notoriety for break-dancing and — oddly — ballet.
“The thing is, being in the industry … of us together over 35 years acting and writing and doing theater, it’s the first film as me as director,” Dante said. “What I wanted it to be was a personal story based on stories from our family and our life so far. A love letter to my family. What I didn’t want it to be? I didn’t think about that.”
Though all the brothers are involved in show business, “the way the industry works is that you don’t always get to do what you want to do,” Dante said, elated that he was able to “tailor parts of each character and let the brothers shine in their own way.”
“What we didn’t want it to be was something that would stereotype Asian roles,” said Derek. “Even as we are one of the largest demographics in the United States, a lot of times in our careers we play ‘non-essential’ characters. I wanted it to e something with a little more depth and show that Asians, especially Filipinos, are not just a ‘type.’”
The family often hears “There’s a Pittsburgh in California?” and they have to explain there’s no “h” at the end, as in the namesake city in Pennsylvania.
“We say it’s a blue-collar town,” interjected Dion, noting the significant populations of Filipinos, Mexicans, African Americans and Italians.
“Parades, Knights of Columbus, St. Peter Martyr church, a lot of community events,” Dion continued.
When the family returned to Pittsburg to shoot several scenes, “everyone came out to support us,” Darion said.
The family was inspired early on, with one descendant the city’s mayor and another a prominent firefighter who played Santa Claus during the holidays. They were, says Derek, “people that looked like us. So we knew growing up, we could do anything we wanted. Our mom kept us out of trouble, getting us involved in the arts — break-dancing, voice lessons, guitar lessons. She didn’t realize she was creating artists.”
As the family became successful break-dancing around the Bay Area, they realized “we have to go to L.A.,” said Derek.
Before the relocation, however, break-dancing led the brothers into performing ballet — yes, ballet — with the San Francisco Ballet Co.
“We did that for a year,” Dion said. “It’s not something you experience in a blue-collar town, but it helped us to see what art do do. No one in our neighborhood ever thought of ballet. But it opened our eyes and showed us that there’s way more out there.”
The entire family plus extended families gathered for a backyard, first-time viewing of the film.
“It was really beautiful,” said Derek. “There was a sense of pride for us. Everything we had done led to this film. Knowing that each story, each vignette, and where it all comes from. There’s a lot of pride, lot of lot and emotion.”
“When we came to Hollywood, we all auditioned for pretty much the same roles,” added Dion. “To not have to audition and fight for something and get to shine in our own way was monumental for our families and careers.”
As for the film content, “it’s all fiction. I want to get that out,” joked Dante. More seriously, “it’s all true, though maybe dramatized. There are a lot of seeds in there that are true.”
“Families have crazy stories,” added Dion.
“When we first saw the film, we were very proud,” said Derek. “People say they identified with certain characters, whether they were Filipino or not.”
Though there may have been anxiety with locations, financing, and travel, “everything as far as the storytelling and acting, we were all on the same page,” Dante said. “It was a joy working with my brothers, my sister, and having my parents there with us.”
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