The Los Angeles-based CineFocus Productions is backing the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2018 entry “Pan de Salawal” (English title: “Miracle Bread”) by new director Che Espiritu. The film (also written by Espiritu) is a drama about an ill-stricken neighborhood along the railroad tracks of Manila that literally gets a “shot-in-the-arm” by a wandering little girl with healing powers; the girl must violently hurt the sick as her magical way of nursing them back to health.

The movie title is a combination of the words “pan de sal” (bread of salt), the fist-sized bread sold in Philippine bakeries, and “salawal,” the term for underpants that is also the symbol of the Filipino everyman whose financially-challenged existence leaves him threadbare.

Espiritu, who holds a Masters degree in Motion Picture Arts from the Florida State University and a fellow at Busan’s Asian Film Academy in 2016, elaborates: “’Pan de Salawal’ is a modern-day story that shows how beautiful it is to be a Filipino. From simple joys like pan de sal bread dipped in coffee… to unwavering virtues like smiling—laughing even—in the face of illness, and a one-hundred percent faith that a loved one will be healed.”

CineFocus co-founder and co-executive producer Matthew Grant Godbey declares, “We became involved with ‘Pan de Salawal’ because we believe it to be a compelling and emotionally moving story.”

Established in February 2017 by Herb Kimble and his acting school buddy Godbey, CineFocus Productions is headquartered at The Lot Studios in West Hollywood.

Kimble is a former stage thespian in his hometown of Chicago while Godbey has appeared in various US TV shows such as “Nip/Tuck,” “Charmed,” “The Young and the Restless,” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

From acting, Kimble transitioned to the corporate world. In 2001, he journeyed to Manila where he has made considerable success in the call center industry. According to Godbey, “Herb’s good fortune has enabled us to form CineFocus together, with the goal of telling great stories through the art of filmmaking.”

“Pan de Salawal” is the first of many Filipino films that CineFocus plans to support as a way for Kimble to give back to the country that has helped him. Kimble says, “I have committed to every year making two films in the Philippines as a way of saying thank you my fellow Filipino friends – you have not only saved my life… you have changed my life.”

Among the cast members of “Pan de Salawal” are Bodjie Pascua a.k.a. Kuya Bodjie of the iconic children’s show “Batibot,” acclaimed actress Anna Luna, heartthrob Felix Roco, and indie faves Madeleine Nicolas, Soliman Cruz, and Ruby Ruiz. Miel Espinoza plays the seven year-old healer Aguy. The film premieres at Cinemalaya 2018. From there CineFocus is going to bring it to various international filmfests. “After a little time on the festival circuit, we will distribute the film to audiences in the US and throughout the world,” says Godbey.

For updates, check out Pan de Salawal on Facebook.