This is the first fiction feature of 29-year oldMartika Ramirez Escobar.
It won the Sundance Jury Award for Innovative Spirit in 2022 for the World Dramatic Competition. The opening film of Cinemalaya 2022 and the closing film of the Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness Section.
Written and Directed by
Martika Ramirez Escobar
Leonor Will Never Die
Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago
Martika Ramirez Escobar
Director of Photography
Eero Yves S. Francisco
Lawrence S. Ang
Alyana Cabral and Pan De Coco
Corinne De San Jose
|Running Time||99 minutes|
|World Premiere Date||Sundance Film Festival 2022
January 21, 2022
Jury Award for Spirit of Innovation
|Country of Production||Philippines|
|Supported by||Purin Pictures
Film Development Council of the Philippines | CreatePH
Berlinale Talents Tokyo and Next Master Support
|Developed at||Ties That Bind / EAVE
First Cut Lab
Southeast Asian Film Lab
Ricky Lee Workshop
Notable Awards and Festivals
Sundance Film Festival | Jury Award for Spirit of Innovation
Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente (BAFICI) | Special Jury Mention
Center for Asian American Media Festival | Centerpiece Narrative Award Winner
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival | Special Jury Mention, Narrative Feature
Closing Film, Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness Program
Finalist for Main Competition, Melbourne International Film Festival
Finalist for Main Competition, Istanbul Film Festival
Nominated for Best Film, Screenplay and New Director
Opening film and Philippine premiere, Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival
Arkeofilms is an independent film production company based in Manila since 2000. They support filmmakers with a strong vision and produce strange and curious work that inspire discourse.
Manila-based independent entertainment studio ANIMA (formerly Globe Studios) is known to be creator-focused and bold in its content since 2016. ANIMA is strategically affiliated with the Globe Telecom Group, the Philippines’ leading telecommunications provider. ANIMA is behind award winning titles ‘LSS Last Song Syndrome’ (Osaka Asian Film Festival), ‘Dead Kids’ (the first Filipino Netflix Original), ‘Whether the Weather is Fine’ (Jury Prize Winner 2021 Locarno Film Festival, ‘OTJ: The Missing 8’ (Volpi Cup for Best Actor Award 2021 Venice Film Festival) and ‘Leonor Will Never Die’ (Sundance Film Festival 2022 Jury Award for Spirit of Innovation).
Leonor Reyes was once a major player in the Filipino film industry after creating a string of successful action films, but now her household struggles to pay the bills. When she reads an advertisement looking for screenplays, Leonor begins tinkering with an unfinished script about the quest of young, noble Ronwaldo, forced to avenge his brother’s murder at the hand of thugs. While her imagination provides some escape from reality, she goes all-in after an accident involving a television knocks her out, sends her into a coma, and transports her inside the incomplete movie. Now Leonor can play out her wildest dreams firsthand and discover the perfect ending to her story.
“With her feature film debut, writer-director Martika Ramirez Escobar expresses a joyous love for cinema through the film’s irreverent form and the wide-eyed, endearing lead performance from Sheila Francisco. Ramirez Escobar concocts a winning mixture of zany misadventures, awesome period re-creations, and self-reflective storytelling while grounding the story in the genuine emotions of a family suddenly torn apart.”
— Sundance Programmers
Notes from the Director
I was born and raised in Manila, a chaotic but charming city full of character and mystery. Not so long ago, a famous action star with no background in law and governance became the 13th President of the Philippines. I was six years old then and as a young girl, it felt natural for somebody famous to get elected. Today, decades later, after having two more “action star” presidents, I find myself questioning this absurd reality and am surprised by how easy it can be understood once I place it in parallel with our love for movies.
The epiphany is that we love fiction that it can blur our realities. I would spend days watching movies because it can take me to places that will never exist in my waking reality. This film therefore, which is about a writer-director who gets transported into a film she had written, is a concretization of cinema’s effect and our romantic notions of life that can only exist in fiction. Thus, if I had to make one film before jumping off a cliff, I would want it to be about my relationship with cinema — how it takes me places and keeps me sane.
– Martika Ramirez Escobar