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AFM: XYZ Boards Bradley Liew’s ‘Motel Acacia’ in North America (EXCLUSIVE)

Motel Acacia to debut in Tokyo
Courtesy of Bianca Balbuena

XYZ Films, the U.S.-based sales and production firm specializing in genre films, has picked up North American representation rights to Bradley Liew’s elevated horror movie “Motel Acacia.” XYZ will open it up to distributors at this week’s American Film Market in Santa Monica.

The film is set to start principal photography at the end of November in Philippines and Slovenia. It is targeting a 2019 release.

Malaysian-born, Philippines-based Liew saw his debut feature “Singing in Graveyards” premier at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics Week in 2016. It went on to 30 festivals and won awards in Malaysia and Kolkata.

Set in a fictional snowy U.S., the film is about a young Filipino man who is groomed by his tyrannical Caucasian father to take over a voyeuristic sex motel with a bed that eats men and impregnates women. The screenplay was co-written by Liew and producer Bianca Balbuena, who was last year awarded Asia Pacific Screen Awards FIAPF Achievement in Film, and Asian Film Commissions AFCnet’s Producer of the Year.

“Hotel Acacia” has a cast that includes Indonesian high-profile actor Nicholas Saputra (“What They Dont Talk About When They Talk About Love”,) Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet (“Embrace of the Serpent, TV’s “Peaky Blinders”,) JC Santos, Angel Aquino from the Philippines, Malaysia’s Bront Palarae (TV’s “Satan’s Slaves”), Thailand’s Vithaya Pansringarm (Only God Forgives), Talia Zucker, and U.S./Australian Will Jaymes (“Beast”).

Leading Asian crew members include Lee Chatametikool (“Shutter”,) co-editor Benjamin Tolentino, cinematographer Larry Manda (“North The End of History”,) and production designers Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije.

The film was extensively developed through international development laboratories. These included the Jerusalem Film Lab, with script doctor Clare Downs, EAVE Ties That Bind, Talents Tokyo, BiFan’s NAFF IT Project, and the Berlinale Co-Production Market.

“This film is a projection of monsters – monsters from the Southeast Asian folklore and the monsters within us – humans. This is a story of a young man’s emancipation both sexually and spiritually. The film also speaks about the power of the female form and how it leads men to their demise. How men seek to dominate women, but always end up worst for it,” said Liew, in a director’s statement.