PRESS RELEASE

July 29, 2022


SUNDANCE Film Festival Winner of the Jury Award for Spirit of Innovation Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago) will open the 18th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival on August 5, 6pm, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Main Theater.  The film is directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar, a Cinemalaya 2020 and 2015 awardee.

Leonor Will Never Die (Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago) tells the story of Leonor Reyes who was once a major player in the Filipino film industry after creating many successful action films, now struggling to pay for her household bills. After reading an advertisement looking for screenplays, she started tinkering with an unfinished script about the journey of young and noble Ronwaldo, who was forced to avenge his brother’s murder at the hand of thugs. As her imaginations provide a little escape from reality, she goes all-in after going into an accident – a television knocking her out, sending her into a coma, and transporting her inside the incomplete movie. Now, Leonor can play out and live her wildest dreams firsthand and discover the perfect ending to her story.

This film stars Sheila Francisco as Leonor, Bong Cabrera as Rudie, Rocky Salumbides as Ronwaldo, and Anthony Falcon.

Escobar wrote the script for the movie in addition to directing it. Her thesis, Pusong Bato (Stone Heart), participated in the 19th Busan International Film Festival and won Best Short Film at Cinemalaya in 2015.  She graduated with honors from the University of the Philippines and is an alumnus of the Fantastic Film School, the Mowelfund Film Institute, the Asian Film Academy, the Southeast Asian Film Lab, the Luang Prabang Talent Lab, and the Berlinale Talents Tokyo.

Leonor Will Never Die, produced by Arkeofilms and Anima, is the first fiction feature of Escobar.

According to Sundance programmers, the feature film debut of 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. 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.

Since 2005, Cinemalaya has supported and promoted the production of Filipino full feature independent films and short films. Many of these films have won awards in local and international competitions and festivals. Through the annual festival, Cinemalaya has showcased over 1,000 works by independent filmmakers including full feature films, shorts, documentaries, Filipino film classics, and art films.

This year, Cinemalaya will run from August 5-14 at the CCP.

Free tickets to the opening program and opening film will be given on a first-come first-served basis at the CCP Ramp 2 hours before the screening time.

For more details, check out the CCP and Cinemalaya websites. Follow the CCP and Cinemalaya official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.