Meet the NYC Filmmaker Reclaiming the Filipina "MAARTE" Identity in Art

MAARTE, a new interview docuseries by NYC director Roxanne Lim, shares the stories of Filipina artists and Pinay creatives who were deemed as “too much” in an inspiring light – taking back their identity through weaving their own new stories with their pasts.
The MAARTE docuseries by director Roxanne Lim.
The MAARTE docuseries by director Roxanne Lim aims to reclaim "maarte" as a word of empowerment for young Filipina creatives.Courtesy of PR.

To close out Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, director Roxanne Lim in New York City presented a heartwarming platform for AAPI voices with unique stories of culture, heritage, and pride within the local community. Lim’s new docuseries is titled MAARTE, a Filipino-Tagalog word often slightingly used to describe people who are “overly artistic and creative” – something the director herself has heard many times in relation to her work and passion. Lim created a welcoming and inclusive space at the Flushing Town Hall in Queens, New York in May for the film screening and launch event for MAARTE, fittingly presented in a predominantly Asian community setting. VIP guests of note for the screening included beauty editor Kristina Rudolfo and blogger Reesa Rei.

It’s crucial for young Filipinas in the arts to know that it’s possible to make your dreams a reality. “MAARTE” highlights the diasporic stories of Pinays from New York, Chicago, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and beyond, and why the term "MAARTE" fuels them in their respective industries.

Roxanne Lim, creator and director of the new MAARTE docuseries, on why the project holds such importance for the community

Around the loaded titular word, Lim notes that “we do it from a place of love, calling each other in, not out” as artists and creatives passionate about their work and lifestyle. Lim supports fellow creatives heavily, both within her own circles and in the broader community. Her cheerful red dress for the premiere was commissioned as a custom design and arrived just before the event in a race against time. The long-awaited MAARTE docuseries on Filipina-American artists screened the first batch of episodes, alongside a questions and answers panel moderated by Future Ancestors TV’s Katheryn Serrano, and performance by Slayrizz. 

A MAARTE episode highlight shot featuring Lovelisa Dizon.
A MAARTE episode highlight shot featuring Lovelisa Dizon, a DJ and cyclist in the community who has performed at events such as the 44th Annual Muse Awards Gala to celebrate women in Film & Television in New York.Courtesy of PR.

Covering heavy topics such as lack of acceptance and unconventional stories, combined with traditional heritage, can be as triggering for audiences and producers as a minefield – but it’s one that Lim navigates expertly and without pause. This navigation has garnered MAARTE resounding funding and support: "MAARTE" is a fiscally sponsored project by the New York Foundation for the Arts, and also received the 2024 Queens Art Fund - New Work Grant. The grant program provides crucial funding for 138 Queens-based artists, art collectives, and small non-profits through the Queens Arts Fund, with almost half a million dollars set aside for funding.

A MAARTE highlight shot from an episode featuring Christian Aldana.
A MAARTE highlight shot from an episode featuring Christian Aldana, a poet and educator in the community who routinely gives back by hosting highly anticipated fundraiser events for youth and student movements both here and in the Philippines.Courtesy of PR.

Lim is the right choice to highlight these stories artfully, meaningfully, and with an approachable air. Her choice to premiere first three MAARTE episodes featuring content creator Asia Jackson, DJ King Marie, and multidisciplinary artist Gericault De La Rose made for the perfect mixture of backgrounds coming together as one cohesive storytelling experience. 

Attendees hear from the first MAARTE episode.
Attendees hear from the first MAARTE episode in the docuseries featuring creator Asia Jackson at the Flushing Queens Town Hall.Photography courtesy of Dale Algo.

Asia Jackson, content creator, shares her experience with colourism online and being bullied for her skin tone, growing up a “military brat” who moved house often. This taught her about cultural differences within each unique community across states or cities, as well as their common bottom lines. 

King Marie, artist and DJ, notes how her family lineage in music provided her a sense of performance early on, realizing later how uncommon it was to come from an Asian musical bloodline when music was so often considered “maarte.” Music became a way for her family to connect and spend time with each other – whereas initially she wanted to sing and perform more traditionally like her mother, her move to New York made her realize she can DJ and create her own music to reach her happiest self by supporting her own platform via her musical income and experiences. “Every time that I stopped, and worked a full-time job or had regular gigs…it just never felt good,” King muses. She was “very Filipina-American,” so had to find her placement in the city as a Filipino, holding onto her roots more closely with how she understood the culture more by finding other people like herself.

Gericault De La Rose, a queer transfemme multidisciplinary artist and performance dancer, shares their struggle combining their queer identity with their cultural Filipino identity altogether. Identity relations and the disposition of gender non-conforming women being “too extra” by being colourful and bold with their personalities and presentations relate heavily to the “maarte” identity. De La Rose looked up to the Sailor Moon character as a child, where a regular schoolgirl by day transforms into a superhero at night to defeat evil by positive healing power: unlocking an aspirational identity in both gender and personality for the artist. Family struggles with identity realizations and becoming “another statistic of trans women becoming disowned” led to an adoption of a name that meant something beautiful and inspirational for them in the Gericault De La Rose moniker. Seeing the representation of “maarte” artists and a reflection of themselves in media, awards, and industry recognitions boosts confidence for young artists like De La Rose, as well as builds a community that accepts and understands these creatives after being “released from the community that they were born with,” as the artist references their own disownment.

Guests at the MAARTE docuseries premiere mingle and shop.
Guests at the MAARTE docuseries premiere mingle and shop culturally relevant pieces seen here from Narra Studio, a small designer highlighting traditional-meets-modern design in their ready-to-wear collections.Photography courtesy of Dale Algo.

Sharing these cultural and personal anecdotes concisely and approachably through film makes for a beautiful highlight reel of the modern AAPI voice, through both its inspirations and its struggles. Nuanced stories kept in an upbeat tone by director Roxanne Lim came together to garner a rousing round of applause at the close of the three episodes of MAARTE. Topics were easily digestible for an audience of any background, and the subsequent questions and answers panel rang both meaningful and clarifying to round out the evening for premiere guests. MAARTE interviews ten Filipino women talents in full from varying backgrounds, with hopes to potentially expand in the future. The series focuses specifically on identifying as Filipina-American, a nuanced and diasporic experience. Generational differences are extremely varied, and influences why young people choose to be artists and creatives across their own unique geographical boundaries. “I wanted this project to be fun,” Lim enthuses…and fun it was, despite tackling outright emotional and complex topics head on.

Director Roxanne Lim (red) celebrates a successful premiere evening.
Director Roxanne Lim (red) celebrates a successful premiere evening with performer Slayrizz (white) after the close of the first three episodes' showing.Photography courtesy of Dale Algo.

Inspired and looking to support the arts in minority communities? Lim’s goal is for her project to become self-sustainable. She urges that it won’t become “just a moment, but more of a movement” for the audience engaging with the work. “It’s a reciprocal relationship - in the arts and in film, it’s an investment – but it’s also an investment in you” in highlighting inspirational voices within minority communities on a broader stage. You can find more about and follow the MAARTE docuseries project on Instagram at @maartedoc, and contribute a tax-deductible donation to support Lim’s work here online.

MAARTE guests.
MAARTE guests enjoyed a live date auction, shopping, catered refreshments, and live musical performances after the premiere.Photography courtesy of Dale Algo.


Writer: Laur Weeks @laur.weeks

Director: Roxanne Lim

Photography: Dale Algo

Q&A Panel Moderator: Kathryn Serrano (Future Ancestors TV) 

Reception catering: Boy George Inasal, Sisig ng Bayan, and Bad for Business Pop-Up

Shop: Narra Studio (selling Ready-to-Wear cultural attire)

Performance: musician Slayrizz 

D:J HelloItsJeanna

Featuring a special date auction in fundraising effort for the next episodes of the MAARTE docuseries.

The MAARTE docuseries by director Roxanne Lim.
The New York Women’s Foundation Networking Events Focus on Investing and Celebrating Youth and Diversity

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