The film, which marks the first co-production between Ireland and the Philippines, follows a fashion designer (Green) suffering from a mysterious illness that puzzles her doctors and frustrates her husband (Strong) until help arrives in the form of a Filipino carer (Fonacier), who uses traditional folk healing to reveal a horrifying truth.
Set between London and Manila, the film’s themes explore consumerism, human exploitation and the fast fashion industry, as well as the brain’s power in deciding whether to harm or cure the physical body. “Nocebo” is the antonym of “placebo,” and refers to the Nocebo Effect, in which negative thinking on the part of a patient results in a more negative outcome.
Written by Finnegan’s frequent collaborator, Garret Shanley, the film is produced by Emily Leo of Wild Swim Films and Brunella Cocchiglia of Lovely Productions, alongside Filipino co-producers Bianca Balbuena and Bradley Liew of Epic Media. XYZ Films, who previously collaborated with Finnegan on the films “Vivarium” and “Without Name,” is handling international sales at next week’s European Film Market and executive producing the film.
“Nocebo” has been developed with Screen Ireland, which is financing the film alongside XYZ Films, Media Finance Capital and The Film Development Council of the Philippines.
Green, who is best known for roles in “Casino Royale” and “Penny Dreadful,” recently starred in “Proxima,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and garnered Green a César best actress nod.
Strong is a SAG and BAFTA-nominated actor best known for roles in “1917,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Shazam,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Kingsman” franchise. He stars in the forthcoming “Cruella” and leads the Sky drama “Temple.”
Fonacier is a Luna-nominated Filipino theater and film actor, as well as a singer-songwriter. She won best supporting actress in 2017 for her work in “Patay na si Hesus.”
Finnegan’s psychological-thriller “Vivarium,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots, premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in competition at Critic’s Week and won the Gan Foundation Award.
Lovely Productions was founded by Finnegan and Brunella Cocchiglia with a focus on creating original films and TV that engage with socio-political and environmental issues. “Nocebo” is the outfit’s third feature film collaboration since “Without Name” and “Vivarium.”
Meanwhile, Wild Swim combines the slates of BAFTA-winning producer Emily Leo (“Under the Shadow”) and Ivana MacKinnon (“Beast”). Upcoming films include “Tuesday” by Daina O.Pusic; “Cavendish,” a female-driven chase movie set in the witch-hunting forests of 17th Century England; teen comedy “Sumo,” which will be executive produced by Armando Iannucci; and an adaptation by Chris Andrews of the Booker Prize-nominated novel “Frankenstein in Baghdad.”
XYZ’s recent productions include “Stowaway,” Joe Penna’s sci-fi thriller starring Anna Kendrick and Toni Collette; “Dual,” Riley Stearns’ sci-fi film starring Karen Gillan and Aaron Paul; and “Prisoners of the Ghostland,” Sion Sono’s action film starring Nicolas Cage, which recently premiered at Sundance.
Green is represented by UTA, Tavistock Wood Management and Premier PR. Finnegan is represented by Independent Talent Group and XYZ Films. Shanley is represented by Independent Talent Group.
Strong is represented by Markham, Froggatt & Irwin and WME.