July 18, 2016

Asian American International Film Festival 2016 Proudly Presents the NY Premiere of TOTO

Asian CineVision and the 39th Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF16) is thrilled to present the New York premiere of TOTO, directed by John Paul Su and starring actor Sid Lucero. TOTO is a story about the sheer power of the dream for a young Filipino hotel room service attendant.

Sid Lucero in NYC promoting TOTO (Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media)
Antonio “Toto” Estares hails from Tacloban, a place ravaged by Typhoon Yolanda. He works at a hotel in Manila, and tries every which way to get to the U.S. so he can support his family – which he’s been doing since his father died and left them penniless. His father had made it to Las Vegas, undocumented, to become a stage act and promised to petition his family, but he ended up a dishwasher who drank and gambled away everything. The only thing Toto inherited from his father is the obsession of the dream and fulfill his ill mother’s hope.
Toto makes one failed attempt after another to get a U.S. visa, risking friendships, relationships, his job, a lot of borrowed money, his dignity, and his heart. What he doesn’t realize is that, in a way, he’s already made it to America. The hotel is America. Its Americans guests represent the good, the bad, and the ugly that make America. After Toto meets the bad and gets ripped off, he loses hope. Yet it’s a good American that helps Toto, in a most unexpected way.
Although the failures of his father follow him, and even haunt him, it’s the power of his father’s dream that fuels him, not just for himself, but for those he loves, to help better their lives and achieve their own dreams. Some call it the American Dream, but for those beyond the U.S. it’s simply “the dream”. After all, there’s a TOTO that resides in all of us.
Director, John Paul “JP” Su is a NYU Tisch alum, who won the Directors Guild of America’s Best Asian-American Student Filmmaker Award for his short film PAGPAG (The Refuse). He is a Disney/ABC-DGA Directing Program alumnus, and currently one of the selected directors of NBCUniversal’s Emerging Directors Program. TOTO is his debut feature film.

TOTO will screen at 8:15 pm at Village East Cinema on July 29, 2016

The post screening panel will consist of director, writer, producer John Paul Su, writer and producer Donald Martin, Francisco Castelo, director of photography Clarissa Delos Reyes, actor and executive producer Blake Boyd, actor Liza DiƱo, and actor Carlo Cruz. 

To learn more about the full schedule of events, visit http://aaiff.org/2016/

Festival Ticket Information
Tickets for general admission are $15. Tickets for seniors (65+), students and handicapped (must present valid ID) are $11. Tickets for ACV members and Community Partners are $11.00. Tickets are available for purchase on AAIFF’s website. For Opening, Centerpiece, and Closing Night Events, please check website for ticket details.

General Festival Information
The Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) is a presentation of Asian CineVision. The festival is a celebration of inspiring Asian and Asian American works in film and video from innovative artists around the world. AAIFF 2016 takes place July 21- 30, 2016 in Manhattan and Queens. Manhattan venues include: Asia Society (725 Park Avenue); Village Cinema East (181-189 2nd Avenue); Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre Street); and the Writers Guild of America (250 Hudson Street). Queens venues include: Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave, Astoria); and Flushing Town Hall (13735 Northern Boulevard, Flushing). 

About Asian CineVision:
Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media arts organization devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American film and video.

Governor Cuomo Launches "Naturalize NY" – First Public-Private Partnership of Its Kind to Promote U.S. Citizenship

In Partnership With the New York Daily News, Robin Hood Foundation, SUNY Albany, Stanford University, and George Mason University

"NaturalizeNY" Waives Naturalization Fee For 2,000 Eligible Low-Income Working Immigrants

$1.25 Million Investment Will Offset Financial Costs and Help Reduce the Barriers For Immigrants to Become U.S. Citizens

Governor Announces Website For Individuals to Determine Citizenship Eligibility and Apply For Fee Waiver - NaturalizeNY.Org

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently launched “NaturalizeNY,” the first public-private partnership of its kind to encourage and assist eligible immigrants in New York State with becoming U.S. citizens. The initiative provides comprehensive support through the naturalization process – featuring free eligibility screenings, application assistance, naturalization exam preparation, and a lottery for 2,000 naturalization application fee vouchers for low-income citizenship-eligible immigrants. NaturalizeNY is administered by the State Office for New Americans in partnership with the New York Daily News, the Robin Hood Foundation, New York Community Trust, SUNY Albany, Stanford University, George Mason University and additional not-for-profit organizations throughout the state.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and New York believes that diversity is our greatest asset,” Governor Cuomo said. “Amid the fervor of national debate, today we are sending a clear message – that we welcome you with open arms to join our community and grow with our economy. Ensuring greater access to the information, tools and resources needed to apply for citizenship is vital to delivering on this promise, and we are proud to point the nation the way forward in getting it done.”

NaturalizeNY boosts awareness of the naturalization process by providing comprehensive citizenship assistance, and includes a lottery for 2,000 naturalization application fee vouchers for eligible low-income working immigrants. The New York Daily News, which runs the annual program "Daily News/CUNY Citizenship NOW!,” and offers thousands of immigrants in New York City free immigration advice, will assist with the selection of the first round of recipients in September.
In addition to expanding opportunity for New Yorkers, NaturalizeNY will also provide a boost to the state’s economy. The 2015 study conducted by the Urban Institute found that, on average, there is an increase of 8.9 percent in earnings for immigrants who become citizens. The increased earnings lead to higher tax payments and lower reliance on public benefits. For New York City, this would mean that if all eligible immigrants become citizens there would be an increase in tax revenues of $789 million, which, along with a decrease in benefits use, would yield a net benefit to New York of $823 million.

Citizenship Assistance
As a central component of NaturalizeNY, the State will host Citizenship and Naturalization Legal Clinics at its 27 Opportunity Centers across New York. At no cost to the prospective applicant, each Legal Clinic will provide:
  • Information on the U.S. citizenship process
  • Eligibility screenings
  • Naturalization application assistance
  • Naturalization application fee waiver assistance 
  • English and civics classes
Additional naturalization assistance services will be coordinated with experienced community partners throughout the state and online services. A locator for Opportunity Centers is available here.

Lottery for Application Fee Voucher

According to the U.S. Census, there are 915,000 people in New York State who hold a green card and are eligible for citizenship – including approximately 654,720 in New York City. The federal application fee for any individual is currently $680 and is expected to rise later this year.
A 2015 study conducted by the Urban Institute found that a main reason these individuals have not yet applied is related to the cost of the individual application. While there is an application to waive the federal application fee for low-income immigrants, many working applicants are income ineligible for the federal naturalization fee waiver. For example, an individual making $30,000 a year – an income that is still too high to qualify for federal fee waivers – still spends about a week’s pay on the naturalization application fee.

To support 2,000 prospective applicants, New York State, the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust are investing more than $1.25 million to cover the fee assistance vouchers. The funding will be paid directly to the federal government by the campaign partners and will cover the full cost of the required naturalization process. Vouchers will be distributed over the next 12 months, and will be administered by personnel from SUNY Albany, Stanford University, and George Mason University.

To apply: Applicants whose household income falls between $30,240 and $60,480 are encouraged to apply. Registration opens today and closes September 23. Prospective applicants can determine their eligibility for citizenship and their eligibility for the lottery by visiting www.NaturalizeNY.org; additional information is available by calling the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Building on New York’s Leading Efforts

Naturalize NY is part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to help immigrants and minority populations fully participate in New York’s civic and economic life.

In 2011, his first year in office, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 26, requiring State agencies that provide direct public services to offer free interpretation and translation services to members of the public for vital forms and instructions. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York State also:
  •  Established Office for New Americans – the first state-level immigrant office created by statute in the nation – to assist newcomers in the State who are eager to contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York.
  •  Launched a comprehensive initiative to protect immigrants from immigration-related fraud, which included signing legislation making it a felony to commit immigrant assistance services fraud.
Most recently, Governor Cuomo launched the Task Force to End Worker Exploitation and the Nail Salon Industry Enforcement Task Force to ensure that workers are being treated fairly and for business owners to better understand their rights and responsibilities.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The federal government only grants U.S. citizenship to immigrants with lawful status after the individual fulfills the requirements established by Congress. The process of becoming a citizen, referred to as naturalization, generally includes an extensive application to the federal government, submission of fingerprints to be used for a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, passing a language and civics exam, and an interview with a federal immigration officer. After this process, an immigrant is not yet a U.S. citizen until after the individual takes the Oath of Allegiance at a citizenship ceremony.