Yep, you read that headline correctly. Acclaimed Malaysian-born, Philippines-based director Bradley Liew (Singing In Graveyards) is gearing up his sophomore feature, Motel Acacia, and it involves a bed with a taste for blood. cue an assortment of bad night sleep jokes here, but before dismissing this as a cult oddity it's worth noting the caliber of cast here, which already includes Borgman's Jan Bijvoet and Only God Forgives' Vithaya Pansringarm. So it'll be odd, yeah, but also very, very well acted. Check out the full announcement below.
Black Sheep (Philippines), Mandarin Vision (Taiwan), White Light Post (Thailand), Studio Virc (Slovenia), Nukleus Films (Croatia) and Tier Pictures (Singapore) board Bradley Liew’s second feature: Motel Acacia, produced by Epicmedia (Philippines) and Potocol (Singapore).
Motel Acacia is co-written by Bradley and film producer Bianca Balbuena who was awarded Asia Pacific Screen Awards FIAPF Achievement in Film and Asian Film Commissions AFCnet Producer of the Year.
Black Sheep is the latest branch under ABS-CBN Film Productions ecosystem for bold and daring films with commercial viability. ABS-CBN Film Productions have produced the highest grossing films in the Philippines and also distributed Berlinale Silver Bear winner, Lav Diaz’s A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery (Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis).
Motel Acacia has been developed under Jerusalem Film Lab with script doctor Clare Downs, EAVE Ties That Bind, Talents Tokyo, and has been presented at BiFan’s NAFF IT Project and the Berlinale Co-Production Market. It was also awarded the Talents Tokyo Next Masters development fund.
Bradley’s debut feature, Singing in Graveyards, premiered at the Venice Film Festival Critics Week 2016, travelled to over 30 festivals and won in film festivals in Malaysia and Kolkata. He was already writing Motel Acacia while shooting and releasing Singing In Graveyards.
“Set in a fictional snowy United States, the film is about a young Filipino man who is groomed by his tyrannical Caucasian Father to take over Motel Acacia which is tasked with exterminating immigrants by the government through a BED, haunted with the spirit of a Filipino tree demon, that eats men and impregnates women,” Bradley says.
The film boasts of an ensemble cast led by audience favorite JC Santos and critically acclaimed Angel Aquino from the Philippines. International cast include Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet (Borgman, Academy Award nominated Embrace of the Serpent and the BBC series Peaky Blinders), Malaysia’s Bront Palarae (Satan’s Slaves), Thailand’s Vithaya Pansringarm (Only God Forgives), US/Australia’s Talia Zucker (Lake Mungo & Ned Kelly with Heath Ledger) and US/Australia’s Will Jaymes (Beast). They are in the middle of casting the main antagonist.
“Incredibly exciting collaborating with international actors of such high caliber and seeing where they take their characters.”, Bradley says.
They also have a powerhouse staff including Thai editor Lee Chatametikool (Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee, Cemetery of Splendour) and South African composer Chris Letcher. From the Philippines are co-editor Benjamin Tolentino (American Film Institute), cinematographer Larry Manda (Lav Diaz’s North The End of History, Berlinale Silver Bear A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery) and production designers Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije (Asian Film Awards nominees).
Asked about what it’s like working with the team, he quips, “What a riot! At the end of the day, it’s really just friends having fun! I’ve always felt that we in Southeast Asia are still fighting to heal ourselves from the scars of colonialism. This film may be horror in genre, but the voice of this film is an attempt to challenge a younger generation to open their eyes and to see that there is something very wrong with the world.” Bradley says.
Motel Acacia is set to start principle photography at the end of November in Philippines and Slovenia.