In a secluded village, an unexplainable plague has taken the lives of many children. The villagers believe it to be caused by a mysterious monster lurking in the nearby forest. JOSE, a boy with a sixth finger is bullied by the other children who believe he is also cursed by the monster. Jose vows to kill the monster in the hopes of ending the bullying. One day, he gets tricked by the other children into entering the forest to save his pet goat. There, he falls and injures his leg. When he wakes up, a monster-like figure is perched on top of him. Jose frightfully runs in panic only to realize that his leg has been treated. Fascinated, Jose returns to the forbidden forest despite his fears. The two eventually meet again when the monster saves Jose again, this time from a crocodile. A unique friendship blossoms. They notice their similarities while accepting their differences, and Jose begins to feel a sense of belonging that he never felt back in the village. He names his new friend Pedro. And despite the increasing paranoia in the village, their friendship grows, with Jose eventually befriending Pedro’s distrustful older brother, whom he names Tomas.
Meanwhile, rumors begin to spread in the village about Jose’s involvement with the monsters. As stories morph until they are indiscernible from the truth, Jose and his family begin to be ostracized. Day-to-day living becomes a struggle. Jose is caught in an ultimate dilemma–to betray his monster friends or protect his family. Continued harassment of his family pushed Jose to lead the villagers to his monster friends. They are brought to the village and caged like wild animals. Afraid of what the villagers plan to do to his friends, Jose rescues the brothers. They escape into the forest, with the villagers hot on their tail. Tomas gets fatally injured while protecting the two and tells them to leave him. Reluctant, Jose and Pedro continue running deeper into the forest as the villagers murder Tomas. The two friends escape into the unknown, never to be seen again.
FIRST CUT LAB MANILA/ FDCP
ASIAN PROJECT MARKET
LOCARNO OPEN DOORS SCRITP CONSULTANCY
BERLIN CO-PRODUCTION PROJECT MARKET
Director: Sheron Dayoc
Writer: Sheron Dayoc
Producer: Alemberg Ang (Daluyong Studios, Philippines) and Sheron Dayoc (Southern Lantern Studios, Philippines)
Co-Producers: Arden Rod Condez, Sonny Calvento
Format 4K digital
Running Time 90 min
Genre Fantasy, Drama, Coming-of-Age
Target Audience Youths, Families with Children, Genre and Arthouse audiences
Shooting Start March 2023
Shooting Language Filipino
Main Cast tbc
I was born and raised in Southern Philippines – an area constantly plagued with war and terrorism. Growing up, I have wondered why violence and hate exist. Having been surrounded mostly by adults, I felt isolated from the world. And it is this feeling of isolation that I began yearning to discover more. This unconsciously started my love for storytelling – to explore and create my worlds.
Yet despite having witnessed such violent events growing up, there was happiness and contentment in my childhood because of how my family helped me look at life. I realized that truth has its time too.
As I gained my own social and political awakening, I began to understand that the issue goes much deeper – the powerful few create a world of hate to stay in power, and they manipulate the weak by creating division and deceit. Sadly, this has become a universal truth shared by all of humanity.
This film is not a departure from my narrative voice but rather a different perspective; a story of unconditional friendship shaped by love and acceptance challenged by the treacherous reality of life. Children may not have a complex understanding of reality but that’s precisely what makes their world a better place.
I hope that this film will inspire everyone to not fear the things we don’t understand but have the bravery to see through their beauty and purity. It is by being a child again – with all that innocence and sense of wonder – that we find in ourselves embracing the dignity and humanity in all of us.