A film about a man who confronts a demon haunting a motel has proved itself to be more than just for screams.
“Motel Acacia,” directed by Bradley Liew, had its world premiere at the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival in Japan (TIFFJP) last Nov. 1. It is among eight films in the Asian Future section for up-and-coming directors.
The Malaysian-born filmmaker based in the Philippines said his work attempts to understand the people’s apathy towards man’s cruelty in society.
“It is about the scars of colonialism in Southeast Asia and how it facilitates the vicious cycle of violence. It’s about a young man’s search for truth and the affirmation that there is good inside us all, no matter how dark the times are,” Liew was quoted by Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) in a statement.
Liew’s wife, award-winning producer Bianca Balbuena, related how grateful they are for having been given the TIFFJP platform to showcase their work to a global audience.
“We found a good place to launch ‘Motel Acacia’ here and we hope to get a good response also,” said the 2018 Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet) Producer of the Year. “Yoshihiko Yatabe and Kenji Ishizaka, the head programmers, have been our good supporters. And even if we submitted late, they watched the film with great interest and wrote personal messages to us on how they love the film.”
“Motel Acacia” sees Filipino man, played by JC Santos, groomed by his tyrannical Caucasian father to take over the motel, a place tasked by the government with exterminating immigrants. It is haunted with the spirit of a Filipino tree demon, which eats men and impregnates women.
JC is part of the multinational crew and cast which includes actors Jan Bijvoet and Nicholas Saputra.
“I am very honored, bordering on being on the verge of tears,” JC said, adding that it is his first time to represent the county.
“I am very proud that Filipino Films get to join film festivals just like TIFF. I hope that all Filipino actors can experience this, too. This validates once again my feeling that I really want what I am doing.”
Pinoy actress Angel Aquino is also in the cast.
After Japan, “Motel Acacia” will be screened at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan. It is also the closing film of the Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival in Indonesia.