In this episode of Directing Magic; Alexandra Cuerdo, director of the documentary ULAM: Main Dish, joins Marquette. They discuss Alexandra’s mission to raise awareness about Filipino culture through food and how to get your new documentary idea off the ground.
Alexandra Cuerdo is a writer and director, recently named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women In the World by the Filipina Women’s Network. Her feature directorial debut, ULAM: Main Dish is the first Filipino food documentary to achieve worldwide distribution. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Vogue, TimeOut, Filmmaker Magazine, Eater and more. The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold called Alexandra’s film a “love letter” to Filipino food, and Stark Insider has crowned ULAM with “Four Stars — Smashing.” She is based in Los Angeles and New York.
For lovers of food documentaries like Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) and the Chef’s Table series, ULAM: MAIN DISH will come as a welcome and fresh addition. The film centers on the honest struggle for authenticity and respect for a cuisine often marginalized by the food world. Deploying rousing interviews with owners, restaurateurs, top chefs, as well as mouth-watering dishes placed front and center, filmmaker Alexandra Cuerdo follows the heartaches and triumphs of contemporary chefs that seek a place for their culture at the dinner table, one dish at a time.
“The key to everyone’s heart is through their stomach,” says Eggslut and Unit 120 chef Alvin Cailan, but getting people to believe in the concept, the execution, and then the food has been challenging. Featuring Cailan, Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad (Maharlika, Jeepney), Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa (Purple Yam), Charles Olalia (Ricebar), and many other beloved restaurateurs, ULAM: MAIN DISH captures firsthand experience of the troubles each faced before making it in the industry. Beyond the determination to bring their innovative versions of beloved dishes, like adobo chicken and lumpia, to the attention of food connoisseurs, there is a supportive and inclusive community that mixes politics and great cooking to exciting ends.