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After Rousing Venice Reception for Lav Diaz’s ‘When the Waves Are Gone’ Philippines’ Epicmedia Unveils Global Slate

Variety — 06.09.2022

When The Waves Are Gone team

Fresh off a standing ovation for auteur Lav Diaz’s “When the Waves Are Gone” at the Venice Film Festival, the Philippines’ Epicmedia Productions has revealed a global co-production slate.

Next up is Swiss co-production “Electric Child” by Simon Jacquemet (“The Innocent”), which was presented at the Venice Production Bridge last year. The story revolves around a couple whose child develops an unusual illness. While the mother and baby drift into their own world, the computer-science professor father develops a pact with an A.I. character on a virtual island to save his child. The project, which is starting production imminently, is supported by the Film Location Incentive Fund of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, the Zurich Film Foundation, Filmstiftung NRW and TV channels SRF and ARTE.


Truong Minh Quy (“The Tree House”) is in preproduction on “Viet and Nam,” which follows Nam and Việt who are coal miners, working 300 meters below ground, where danger awaits and darkness prevails. The six-country coproduction is supported by Rotterdam’s Cinemart, Cannes’ L’Atelier, the Gotham IFP Market, the Hubert Bals Fund, the MPA Asia Pacific Screen Academy Fund, the Purin Pictures, Talents Tokyo Next Masters Fund, World Cinema Fund, IMDA Southeast Asia Co-Production Grant, Normandy Development Fund, OIF Francophonie, CNC Aide aux cinemas du Monde, NFF+HBF Coproduction Scheme, Visions Sud Est and TFL Co-Production Fund.

It is co-produced by Weijie Lai (Singapore’s E&W Films), Marie Dubas (France’s Deuxième Ligne Films), Mai Nguyen (Germany’s Scarlet Films), Stefano Centini (Taiwan’s Volos Films), and Joost de Vries and Lorna Tee (An Original Picture, The Netherlands).

In development and financing with Revolver Films is Dutch film “Mandai River” by Michaël I. Sewandono (“Arash”), which was at EAVE Ties That Bind and Cannes Cinefondation, and will follow three characters whose fates tragically entwine when they are overpowered by chaos and mystical forces of nature beyond their control.

Filipino film “Filipiñana” by Rafael Manuel, where a new girl looks to subvert the rules in a club that reflects Philippine societal structures, is in development and is supported by the U.K.’s Channel 4, the CreatePH Development Fund and Talents Tokyo Next Masters Support Development Fund. Manuel won best short at Berlin for his short film of the same name.

“In My Mother’s Skin” by Kenneth Dagatan (“Ma”), about a 10 year-old girl who tries to protect her flesh-hungry mother, cursed by a magical fruit from a sinister fairy who desires to consume them all, is in post. The film is supported by the Film Development Council of the Philippines, IMDA Singapore, TAICCA and won the Discovery of Asia Award at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival’s NAFF Project Market. It is co-produced by Zhao Wei Films (Singapore), Volos Films and Clover Films (Singapore), which also handles Asian distribution.


“Cu Li Never Cries” by Pham Ngoc Lan (“Blessed Land”), which recounts the stifling summer days that stir up a whirlwind of events and emotions in the life of Lady M, a blue-collar retiree in Hanoi who once worked in East Germany as a guest worker, is also in post. The film is funded by Sorfond, the Hubert Bals Fund, Purin Pictures, Talents Tokyo Next Masters Support Fund, Crossing Borders Research of Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation, Visions Sud Est, Film Philippines Incentive Award, Film Development Council of the Philippines ASEAN Co-Production Fund, World Cinema Fund Europe, EZEF Brot for the World and CNC Aide aux Cinemas du Monde.

Epicmedia, led by Bianca Balbuena, Pepe Diokno, Bradley Liew and Patti Lapus, also has several streaming projects. Liew (“The Tapes”) has just wrapped university romcom slasher series “The Ex-Factor” and Epicmedia is going into production with “Heaven, Earth, Hell,” a series about kidnapping and illegal underground child fighting in Manila, to be directed by Eve Baswel (“Tía Madré”). Two series are currently in development: “Happy Crush” by Carlo Catu (“Misis Piggy”) and Mike Mendoza’s “How to Cheat Death.”

“Epicmedia’s goal has always been about strengthening collaborations within the Southeast Asian region and helping filmmakers, not just Filipinos, in bringing their films to the global stage,” Liew told Variety. “Not bound by borders, but rather by the very essence of story-telling, chemistry, friendship, creative force.”

Meanwhile, Balbuena, who is a former Asian Film Commissions Network producer of the year and Asia Pacific Screen Awards outstanding achievement in film awardee, has made a career move to Globe Telecom-backed Kroma Entertainment as head of studios and MD in charge of the Anima and Secret Menu brands.

“Co-production is a delicate marriage. The material should speak to you, you should believe in the director’s vision and artistic execution. But at the same time, you should love working with your co-producer because you’ll be fighting for a project hand-in-hand for a number of years. We’ve been very lucky with our co-producers,” Balbuena told Variety. “I don’t think there has been any bloody divorce yet.”

“We are excited to bring Filipino content and talent to the world stage, work on strengthening our content library, discover new exciting voices, help bring back audiences to local cinemas and bridge the gap between local content and international streamers”, Balbuena said about her new role.

This article was first published here.