Soon after getting divorced, the increasingly apprehensive Alma must navigate her new life as a single mother. One day, a suspenseful incident leads her to ponder whether her divorce was the right decision.
Alma (35) is newly divorced from Rafa - a divorce she pushed for after catching Rafa cheating on her with a co-worker. While healing from the painful betrayal, Alma finds herself increasingly apprehensive.
One day, when Alma is driving her son home from school, a stranger named Paulina stops her car and asks for help to bring a wounded man to hospital, as a fire has broken out nearby. Alma is suspicious. She sees no sign either of a fire or a wounded man. Alma refuses and drives away.
Several days later, Alma is summoned by the police. A man has died in hospital as a direct result of her negligence. Alma is required to pay blood money. She refuses, but Rafa secretly meets Paulina and pays her. When Alma finds out, she barges into Paulina’s father’s funeral demanding the money be returned. Things escalate as the two women are mutually suspicious of each other. When someone sets fire to her house one night, Alma has no doubt that it was Paulina. She convinces the police to arrest her.
When the real reason behind the fire is discovered, Alma finds her world turned upside down; once convinced of being a victim, now a perpetrator. Confession is not an option. She cannot let Rafa see her life collapse after divorcing him.
Alma’s journey becomes a haunting exploration into how far humans are willing to go to prove themselves right. Alma considers the possibility that, maybe, the only way to prove herself right is by proving everybody else wrong.
Watch It Burn was inspired by a specific event that happened to my family. One night, my family turned down a stranger who came to ask for our help. In the following weeks and months, each of my family members kept discussing the incident as if they were trying to convince themselves that turning down the stranger was the right decision. Everybody just wanted to be right, and I found it deeply disturbing.
This film is an exploration of how far people will go to prove that they are right, how terrifying it is for us to admit that we are wrong, and the potential for tragedy that shadows such obsession.
Watch It Burn is the second feature film by Makbul Mubarak. His first feature film, Autobiography (Makbul Mubarak, 2022), which I produced, premiered at Venice International Film Festival 2022, and since then has been selected at more than 40 festivals, winning 21 awards for best film.
Watch It Burn is in the development stage, parallel with financing, and at present the project is progressing through ScriptLab at Torino Film Lab. Watch It Burn will be made following the same process as Autobiography (Makbul Mubarak, 2022), as a co-production between several countries.
The story is strong because it is inspired by events that happened to his mother and family, 23 years ago, similarly to Autobiography (Makbul Mubarak, 2022), which was inspired by his relationship with his father. Both stories are contemporary and universal. The plan is to have a final draft by the end of 2023, start production at the end of 2024, and distribute the film starting in May 2025.
Makbul Mubarak is an Indonesian filmmaker based in Jakarta. He is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents and Busan International Film Festival’s Asian Film Academy, studying under the guidance of Chinese master filmmaker Lou Ye. After making several short films, he directed and wrote his debut feature film, Autobiography (2022), which had its world premiere at Venice International Film Festival 2022 (Orizzonti competition) and received the FIPRESCI Prize. Since then, the film has received more than 20 awards worldwide, including Best Directorial Debut at Stockholm International Film Festival 2022, Grand Prix at Tokyo FILMeX 2022, Best Actor at Marrakech International Film Festival 2022, Best Screenplay at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2022, and others. Autobiography (2022) has travelled to more than 60 festivals around the world, including Toronto International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, etc. Watch It Burn is his second feature.
Yulia Evina Bhara is a producer and founder of KawanKawan Media, a production company based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She has produced, among others: On the Origin of Fear (Bayu Prihantoro Filemon, 2016) Solo, Solitude (Yosep Anggi Noen, 2016), The Science of Fictions (Yosep Anggi Noen, 2019), documentary You and I (Fanny Chotimah, 2020), Whether the Weather is Fine (Carlo Francisco Manatad, 2021), Stone Turtle (Woo Ming Jin, 2022), Autobiography (Makbul Mubarak, 2022), Tiger Stripes (Amanda Nell Eu, 2023), Dreaming & Dying (Nelson Yeo, 2023), Last Shadow at First Light (Nicole Midori Woodford, 2023), and 24 Hours with Gaspar (Yosep Anggi Noen, 2023).