February 23, 2024

Bradley Liew of Epicmedia Productions (Philippines), Stefano Centini of Volos Films (Taiwan/Italy) and Singapore’s Huang Junxiang have reunited to launch two genre projects at the Busan International Film Festival‘s Asian Contents and Film Market.

The trio previously teamed on Sundance Midnight hit, “In My Mother’s Skin” by Kenneth Dagatan, which was recently ranked number six on Variety’s Best Horror Movies of 2023. The film was acquired by Amazon Studios and will stream on Prime Video from Oct. 12.

The producers are backing Dagatan’s “Molder,” a body-horror supernatural thriller set in a sleepy Italian town where an elderly Filipino immigrant struggling with signs of early onset dementia, grapples with the sudden disappearance of his wife and the mysterious young man who claims to have placed a curse upon them. The film aims to blend both Filipino folklore based supernatural horror with the experiences of the Filipino diaspora in Italy. It will be shot in the Philippines and Italy with Filipino and Italian actors. The film is currently in advanced development and early financing stages. It is due to commence production at the end of 2024 or early 2025.

The fifth feature film of director Carlo Catu (“Aria”), “Hold My Gaze” is designed as a high-tension mystery thriller set in Taiwan. Through lies, deceit and murder, three damaged souls seek to mend through the love of another. But no one is able to hold the gaze of their lover, under the shadow of the ever-present third. Catu’s work seeks to explore the trauma surrounding the Philippine family, the normalization of LGBTQ+ centric-stories and the balancing both artistic and commercially viable works.

The film will be shot mainly in Taiwan, in both Mandarin and Filipino language with Filipino and Taiwanese leads. The project recently won the TAICCA Award at the the Malaysia’s MIFFEST Project Market and will be presented at the 2023 TCCF (Taiwan Creative Content Fest) Script to Screen Pitching this November in Taipei. In addition to Liew, Centini and Huang, the film will also be produced by April Batican (“Mina-Anud”) of Epicmedia and Chiu Ping-Yu of Volos. The film, which is currently in the financing stage, has been presold to Japan under Harakiri Films (Taro Imai) and slated for production at the end of 2024.

Liew said: “Epicmedia would like to express its absolute delight and excitement to reunite with both Stefano Centini and Huang Junxiang. Our first collaboration together was the hugely successful Sundance hit, ‘In My Mother’s Skin,’ it was one of the best coproduction experiences where each producer (and country by extension) brought out the best of the project and really elevated the film to an international level. We feel that our shared vision of creating auteur driven genre stories from a Southeast Asian perspective is the way forward in creating demand for content originating from our region, to the world. And now we look to further expand this scope of stories with two Filipino films set abroad, one in Italy and the other in Taiwan.”

Centini added: “We all share a strong dedication to creating one-of-a-kind, genre-bending stories that encompass borders and continents. Our past success with ‘In My Mother’s Skin’ has been a testament to that, and we’re enthusiastic about carrying this forward with ‘Hold My Gaze’ in Taiwan, and to open new possibilities through our new Italian branch, Volos Films Italia, on ‘Molder.’ With these films, we aim to offer a new perspective to audiences worldwide, merging Filipino storytelling with the unique landscapes of Taiwan and Italy, creating new models of coproduction for independent cinema.”

Huang said: “It is always a pleasure to work with filmmakers who share a commitment to telling great stories. ‘Hold My Gaze’ and ‘Molder’ are two films which possess the potential to make a cultural impact across Asia. Both deal with social issues that our Asian societies grapple with and are packaged with a strong market angle. It’s sufficient excuse to reunite with trusted friends.”

Epicmedia-produced film, Lav Diaz’s “Essential Truths of The Lake” was at Locarno and is playing at Busan.

Volos’ “Tomorrow Is a Long Time” by Jow Zhi-Wei made its debut at the Berlinale, and “The Settlers” by Felipe Galvez premiered at Cannes. Volos Films Italia coproduced “Essential Truths of the Lake.”

Huang produced 2018 Berlinale title “Ramen Teh,” 2020 Busan film “Tiong Bahru Social Club” and has also served as producer for HBO Asia anthology series “Folklore” (2018) and “Food Lore” (2019).

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