(Read the full Q&A on FilmCourage.com here)
A Documentary About Language, Landscape and Idealism Lost – SIX MONTHS TO SALVATION by Lorenzo Benitez
Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Lorenzo Benitez: I was born in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, and lived there for the first eight years of my life before my family migrated to Sydney, Australia. I spent my entire adolescence in the latter, which is why I like to think of it as where I did all my real growing up. So despite being born in Manila, I’m much more inclined to call Sydney my “hometown.”
I am the eldest of three children: the other two are still in high school. We have a mother and a father who’re still together. Despite our atypical international upbringing, I’d say we’re otherwise a fairly nuclear family.
Film Courage: Where are you currently studying? What is your major?
Lorenzo: I’m currently at Cornell University, where I’m studying for a B.A. as a double-major in Philosophy and Economics. I initially contemplated studying film to some extent, but that probably would’ve been redundant. After all, I think it was Werner Herzog who said that making your debut film is as beneficial as, if not more educational than, any form of film school. Actually, it wouldn’t surprise if there’s a whole list of filmmakers who’ve said something to that effect.
Film Courage: Was this your first time as a volunteer abroad? What made you want to volunteer?
Lorenzo: This was not my first time. When I was still in high school, I returned to the Philippines as part of a three-week service trip that visited a number of impoverished and marginalized communities in Manila and the surrounding regions. In all earnestness, the cognitive dissonance I sensed between the Manila I saw over those weeks and the Manila I had inhabited for eight years profoundly affected me. So, even though some who’ve watched Six Months to Salvation probably think I have a low regard for overseas volunteer programs, this isn’t the truth. I volunteered for Thailand because I had previously benefited from a very rewarding and, excuse the cliché, eye-opening volunteer experience. Also, I have to admit another factor that influenced my decision was I needed an altruistic reason to justify taking a gap year before starting university.