"Toto" tells the story of a Manila hotel worker who seeks every way to get a visa to America. Sid Lucero plays Antonio Estares, the Toto in the film, who in his jovial and friendly self tries to flirt his way with hotel guests – all with U.S. passports – to try to get one to sponsor him on his American Dream.
This comedic look at the hopes of many outside U.S. to get to the land of many dreams exposes the harsh reality that without money, such a dream often becomes a nightmare. The very hetero Toto even gets cruised by an American tourist staying in the hotel - will he succumb and sleep with the American just to get a chance at a visa?
The film tackles his dilemma (and that of the American) in an unexpected way. Instead of depicting the American David Yeltsin (played by Blake Boyd) as a sexual predator after Asian young men, the director of Toto, John Paul Su, manages to resolve the dilemma in this feature drama (115 minutes) to the ultimate satisfaction of both parties, with Toto retaining his dignity and David also gaining what he needed. I'm not revealing what happens in the end; I'm afraid you will have to catch the film somewhere.
But Toto (the film) did manage to get to America, screening last Sunday at the 2016 Newport Beach Film Festival at tony Newport Beach in sunny Southern California. The festival ends today.
-- Daniel C. Tsang