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The Search for Weng Weng

North American Premiere
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If you’re a trash cinema aficionado, his face is familiar. If you’ve been to a DJ XL5 event, you’ve likely seen his stunts. Who could forget all two feet and nine inches of him, topped with an enchanting smile? We’re talking about Filipino actor Ernesto de la Cruz, better known by his screen name Weng Weng.

Andrew Leavold is the owner of Trash Video, an Australian specialty video club. When he was young, the film FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY changed his life. Since that day, he has been obsessed with Weng Weng. His documentary THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG relates his unrelenting quest to uncover the true fate of his subject. Over the course of a number of visits to the Philippines, he pieces together the incredible story of this very small, but very brave, film icon. His varied interviews allow him to discover ever more about Weng Weng, and also the extraordinary cinema of the Philippines. Packed with amazing and eccentric personalities — directors, producers, actors, stuntmen, friends and members of his family — the film casts a revealing light on the remarkable Weng Weng.

With his camera in hand, Leavold leaps into the bustling and boisterous film industry of the Philippines. Throughout his journey, his passion is evident for weird and wonderful world of 1970s Filipino cinema — a world where anything is possible, with a little bit of money and a lot of imagination, ingenuity and of course fog machines. It’s also an impressive feat of detective work as Leavold seeks out the hard facts on a forgotten moment in local cultural history. A moment some look back on with embarrassment, even disgrace. The result of six years of hard work, THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG lays it all out. Its interviews, touching and often hilarious, are nonetheless frequently surprising. The revelations continue when Leavold locates one living parent, opening a windown on Weng Weng’s childhood and on the last days of his life, about which little is known and much is speculated.

Leavold had a goal, and he has achieved it. Not only does he showcase this exceptional individual, but he opens our eyes to the cultural traditions of a country often overlooked in the grand scheme of global cinema. You’ll learn a lot about a unique little guy.

— Éric S. Boisvert