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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Filipino actress and producer Maria Brenda Acopiado

By Freddy Moyano

Born and raised in the Philippines, Maria Brenda Acopiado met with us after the Sept. 4 Green Bay screening of her proof of concept short film, MAYA: The Sacrifice (2019) at the MLC Awards hosted at Tarlton Theatre in Green Bay.

The film took home “Best Alternate Reality Production of the Year,” and Acopiado also won “Best Actress in a Lead Role” for her role in Luna-Tic which screened during the Slasher Movie Night segment.

Acopiado, who moved to the United States with her family in her early adulthood, said MAYA, along with all of her other projects, was produced in both the Philippines and the United States.

“I have a fabulous team in the Philippines that does all my editing and visual effects, led by Paolo Bertola” Acopiado said.

She said her connection with her homeland is a common thread that runs through all her work.

Mental Health Advocate
“I wrote MAYA for my daughter,” Acopiado said. “She has been battling with a mental illness since the age of 13.”

Phillipine-born acress and filmmaker Maria Brenda Acopiado recently won best actress in a lead role for her work in Luna-Tic which screened at the Tarlton Theater in Green Bay last month. Submitted Photo

She said her daughter, Makayla, had written a song called “Fear is a Monster” the year before MAYA came to fruition.

Acopiado said she and her team decided to include the song in the closing credits of the film, since the story is well-connected to fear.

“[MAYA] is about a mother who is going through tremendous challenges in her own life. The frustration of Makayla’s unending visits to hospitals for her condition — I feel somebody has to know what she is going through” Acopiado said.

With Luna-Tic, Acopiado said it is a proof of concept short that she envisions being part of a larger feature film project which is currently in negotiations in Hollywood.

The 6-minute tape, completed in 2021, deals with mystery and mental health awareness, as well as the reality of minorities.

“Being a minority female filmmaker, it is ten times harder to succeed in the relentless industry dominated by men. However, that doesn’t scare me because that is what I set out to accomplish. I will not let others’ criticism and judgment prevent me from achieving my dreams. I am not afraid of hard work. It is part of the process” Acopiado said.

Of her secret to success as an independent filmmaker and entrepreneur, Acopiado said giving and helping “one person at a time” is key.

She said she and her Zatori Films team have been doing non profit work for years, including a recent engagement with Feed My Hungry Children.

“Other than raising awareness, for instance, during the pandemic times we went out to help feed the homeless in our area,” Acopiado said.

Filipino Hispanic Heritage Facts
According to article titled The Hispanic Identity of Filipinos: A Short History published by Seton Hall University, “the cultural DNA of the Philippines is Hispanic.”

The article goes on to say “traditional Hispanic family values, including respect for elders, close family ties, and pride of the home country are powerful evidence of many Filipino families.”

For more about Acopiado’s work, visit www.zatorifilms.net

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