Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2017 Projects

2017 Post-Production Fund

Project Sea Serpent
Category Asian Project
Project Sea Serpent
Director Joseph Israel LABAN
Country Philippines
Director's Profile Joseph Israel Laban is an award-winning Tagalog independent filmmaker. He was a Fulbright Scholar who holds a Master’s degree in documentary filmmaking from New York University. He directed, wrote, and produced two films, namely, Cuchera and Nuwebe, that were screened in over 60 international film festivals. Cuchera was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as other film festivals including Stockholm, Fribourg and Cleveland. Nuwebe was also screened in numerous international film festivals including Montreal, Geneva and Goteborg. It has won several recognitions including Best Director at the 2015 ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards in Sarawak, Malaysia.
A sleepy fishing village in Southern Tagalog wakes up to an incredible sight – their sea has turned scarlet red. Floating on their waters are thousands of apples. Young provincial lass Divina, 16 years old, sees the strange phenomenon that befell their village as a mere distraction as she mulls over whether to have her father, who went missing at sea three months ago, declared officially dead. The villagers nag her about participating in ancient rituals to appease the sea while her young siblings navigate a complicated adolescence in an impoverished fishing community sitting in the Verde Passage – the richest and most diverse marine habitat in the world – where mysticism and harsh realities are the way of life.
Director's Note
I have always been fascinated with the supernatural - the heady mix of magic realism that remains pervasive in modern day Philippine society, particularly in rural villages and communities. With some regions in the country still being ravaged by wars and insurgencies plus numerous typhoons, earthquakes, and other calamities, the Filipino psyche seems to be a fertile ground for the supernatural to take hold and thrive. These are the themes that I wanted to explore in my film Sea Serpent through the story of Divina and her siblings. Sea Serpent explores the intersection between two realities: The reality of our faith and the reality of our pain. But beyond these two realities, lies the reality we hope to have - one that defies our faith and our pain; a reality that is tethering on the fringes of our limited human perception and unlimited spiritual imagination.
Still Cut