Do you remember Jansen Magpusao, the first-time actor who topbilled “John Denver Trending,” director Arden Rod Condez’s full-length directorial debut that took home best film at Cinemalaya 2019? He’s back on the big screen.
Enter “The Gospel of the Beast,” a feature film-slash-directorial comeback of Gawad Urian 2017 best director Sheron Dayoc (“Women of the Weeping River”). This coming-of-age-slash-social drama is flying to Japan, as it’s included in the roster of the 36th edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival, happening on Oct. 23 to Nov. 1.
In a Facebook post, Sheron thanked the cast and crew, and shared more interesting details about the project: “Indeed, it’s a remarkable full-circle moment! Wim Wenders, the director of ‘Wings of Desire,’ the arthouse film that first inspired me to become a filmmaker, will preside as the jury president of the festival.”
An announcement by production house Southern Lantern Studios reveals that it’s the only Southeast Asian film at the fest’s main competition roster. The film—which is shot in Iloilo and Pandan, Antique—stars Jansen Magpusao, Ronnie Lazaro, John Renz Javie, plus a cast coming “entirely from Western Visayas.”
The studio also worked together with Tinkerbulb Productions and E&W Films for this project. A co-production of the Philippines and Singapore, “The Gospel of the Beast,” also had funding support from the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ (FDCP) International Co-Production Fund.
The full-length film follows impoverished boy Mateo, who’s in search for his missing father. After killing his best friend by accident, he runs away with his father’s friend, unaware that this would prompt his journey toward beasthood.
According to the logline on TIFF, the boy also starts working for an organization and sees the horrifying reality of the dark side of Philippine society.
Among its contenders include “(Ab)normal Desire” (Japan), “Air” (Russia), “Blind at Heart” (Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg), “Dwelling by the West Lake” (China), “A Foggy Paradise” (Japan), “Gondola,” (Germany, Georgia) “A Long Shot” (China) “The Persian Version” (USA), “Roxana” (Iran), “Sermon to the Birds” (China) “The Settlers” (Chile, Argentina, Netherlands), “Snow Leopard” (China), “Tatami” (Georgia, USA) and “Who Were We?” (Japan).
The trailer is already serving a mysterious and haunting atmosphere, so our fingers are crossed for a Philippine premiere.
“The Gospel of the Beast” film poster from Southern Lantern Studio’s Facebook, designed by Justin Besana; still from the trailer on Tokyo International Film Festival’s YouTube channel