×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cautionary Tale, ‘Motel Acacia’ Under Way After Four Years of Development

Production has begun on Malaysian director Bradley Liew’s upscale horror film “Motel Acacia.” With a clearly topical message, the film features a hotel bed that eats immigrants.

Actor, JC Santos called it: “A cautionary tale of what’s going to happen in the future.” Indonesian star, Nicholas Saputra said the he agreed to the role “because of its urgency and relevance.”

The movie has representation in North America through XYZ Films, the sales and production company of Todd Brown. He was also responsible for selecting the concepts to be presented at the International Film Festival and Awards Macao’s project market.

“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,” said Liew. His first film, “Singing in Graveyards,” premiered in the Venice Film Festival’s Critics Week section in 2016, and travelled to over 30 festivals.

In addition to Santos and Saputra, the ensemble cast includes Agot Isidro from the Philippines, Belgian actor Jan Bijvoet (“Borgman,” “Peaky Blinders”), Malaysia’s Bront Palarae (“Satan’s Slaves”), Thailand’s Vithaya Pansringarm (“Only God Forgives”,) Talia Zucker (“Ned Kelly”) and Will Jaymes (“Beast”).

“Motel Acacia” has taken some four years to come to fruition and is now structured as a co-venture between companies from The Philippines, Taiwan, Singapore, Slovenia, Croatia, and Malaysia.

The development phase involved presentation at Berlinale Co-Production Market and BiFan’s NAFF IT Project. It was also developed at the Jerusalem Film Lab, Eave’s Ties That Bind and Talents Tokyo.

“It started at BiFan’s project market, but the material was very raw and we only had our first draft of the script then- which was quite bad,” said noted Philippines producer and the film’s co-writer, Bianca Balbuena. “Then the year after, we got into Eave Ties That Bind and Talents Tokyo with a better draft. We also got the development fund support from Talents Tokyo. The year after, we got invited to participate at the very selective Jerusalem Film Lab (Sam Spiegel International Film Lab) and it was a year of script development that ended with a public pitch during the Jerusalem Film Festival.

“By this time, we already had Taiwan’s Mandarin Vision and Singapore’s Potocol and Tier Pictures on board. Then a year after, we got into the biggest event of the project, the Berlinale Co-Production Market where we met our Croatian and Slovenian partners. Months later, our biggest partner and Philippine distributor, Black Sheep of ABS-CBN Films, and co-producer, Globe Studios, boarded the project.

Balbuena’s company, Epicmedia, is the lead producer handling development, production, sales & distribution decisions. The deal for North American representation through XYZ Films was announced last month.

More Film

  • Cate Blanchett's 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette'

    Cate Blanchett's 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' Moved Back to August

    Annapurna Pictures has moved its Richard Linklater literary adaptation “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” starring Cate Blanchett back five months from March 22 to an Aug. 9 release. A rep for Annapurna explained that August has served well as a launching pad for release of female-skewing films such as “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Florence Foster Jenkins” and [...]

  • Kumail Nanjiani Issa Rae

    Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae to Star in 'Lovebirds' Romantic Comedy

    “The Big Sick” star Kumail Nanjiani and “Insecure” star Issa Rae will topline Paramount’s romantic comedy “The Lovebirds.” The project will reunite Nanjiani with “The Big Sick” helmer Michael Showalter, who’s on board to direct from a script by Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall, and Martin Gero. The project goes into production at the end of [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized by the [...]

  • 'The Pledge' Review

    Film Review: 'Pledge'

    “Privilege comes with sacrifice” says one character to another in “Pledge” — exactly the kind of noble sentiment authority figures always voice to hush the protests of those about to be sacrificed. This third feature for director Daniel Robbins is no delicate flower of cinematic art, but a lean and mean shocker that tells its [...]

  • John Lithgow

    John Lithgow-Blythe Danner's 'Tomorrow Man' Bought Ahead of Sundance Premiere

    In one of the first deals for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, Bleecker Street has acquired North American rights to the John Lithgow-Blythe Danner romance “The Tomorrow Man.” The movie will hold its world premiere at the fest, which opens on Jan. 24 in Park City, Utah. The distributor is planning a May 17 release. [...]

  • Dragon Ball Super Broly

    'Dragon Ball Super: Broly' Scores Big First Day With $7 Million

    Funimation Films’ Japanese anime movie “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” has opened impressively with a dominant first-day total of $7 million at 1,260 North American locations on Wednesday. The English-language version of “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” which screened at 180 Imax and Cinemark XD premium large format screens, generated by far the best per-screen average among [...]

  • Shoplifters Cannes

    Box Office: 'Shoplifters' Hits $2 Million to Become One of 2018's Highest-Grossing Foreign Films

    Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” has become an unexpected box office success. The Japanese drama about a petty thief who adopts a young girl has earned critical raves and picked up the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. That translated into commercial success for Magnolia, the indie distributor that’s been overseeing the film’s rollout. “Shoplifters” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content