Daughters of the Sea is a triptych: a fisherman′s daughter deals with her missing father, a fish shop owner keeps a mermaid alive, and a filmmaker meets her missing father.
Daughters of the Sea weaves together the lives of three individuals who plunge into uncharted waters. Raquel′s husband vanished at sea, leaving her in limbo, yearning. Their daughter Rita, fears the ocean, fixating on a sunken statuette of the Virgin Mary that grows every day. Upon rumored sightings of Raquel′s husband, she dreams of him, and Rita builds up the courage to finally enter the waters that took her father.
The same ocean that took Raquel’s husband has brought something to Dewey, a sixty year-old whose fish shop is his whole world. Surrounded by water tanks, Dewey spends his days taking care of the sea animals. One day, he stumbles into a dying mermaid-child. He asks Nanette, a neighbor, where they bond while nursing the creature and inadvertently discover Dewey as a descendant of a mermaid.
Lucia is a filmmaker obsessed with images that are formed on puddles. On a film assignment about maps in Spain, Lucia meets Teodoro Ramirez, a Spanish cartographer whom she connects with almost instantly. Through their shared interest in maps and projections on water, Lucia will find out that he is the father she never met.
At 30, my biological father remains a mystery, "unknown" on my birth certificate. A photo of my mestiza great-great-grandmother and her mother reflects our complex Filipino heritage shaped by centuries of colonization.
In my film, three souls confront their unknowns. Rita, daughter of Raquel who awaits her vanished husband, overcomes her fear of the sea. Dewey, saving a dying mermaid, connects with his heritage. Lucia, accustomed to portraying others, delves into her own identity.
Each story is an island united by water, akin to our 7,000+ Philippine islands forming a map. My fascination with underwater triggered this, perhaps I was a fish in my past life?
Cinema, my guiding map, connects life′s tapestry—people, thoughts, histories. These threads interlace the three stories.
In Daughters of the Sea, we talk about being active in the discovery of these characters’ yearnings and desires by putting them up to the task of searching. A search is a risk – and plunging into uncharted waters always makes for good cinema. It was exciting to hear that Martika plans to use the searching as a style and treatment of the film.
Martika, as with her other works, brings in magic and wonder. This time, we have a mermaid, a miraculous statue, and a map that leads a daughter to her father.
The narrative is complete in Martika’s mind – and we continue to search for co-producers, collaborators and partners in our journey.
Martika Ramirez Escobar is known for her bizarre short films and groundbreaking first feature, Leonor Will Never Die (2022), which won awards at Sundance Film Festival 2022, Toronto International Film Festival 2022, and Best Director at Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia 2022. She participated in Berlinale Talents, Asian Film Academy and Talents Tokyo.
After graduating with honors from the University of the Philippines, her thesis film Stone Heart (2014), competed at the Busan International Film Festival 2014.
Known for her distinct artistic flair, Martika continues to push boundaries in cinema while inviting aspiring filmmakers to pursue their visions through her workshops. Aside from directing, Martika works actively as a cinematographer in various productions.
Daughters of the Sea is Escobar’s second feature film and was first conceptualized in 2017. In its current form, it took part at the Fiction Lab in the Full Circle Philippines 2023 with mentoring by producer Patrick Mao Huang and script consultant Helen Beltrame-Linné, who is now on board as the co-writer of the film. There will be a first draft of the screenplay by the last quarter of this year and principal photography starts in 2025.
Monster Jimenez is a producer, director, writer, mentor and consultant in various productions and film labs. She founded This Side Up, a content creation house that develops stories for advertising and entertainment. She concurrently runs Arkeofilms, an affiliate that produces independent films.
She is a founding member of the Filipino Documentary Society, an organization dedicated to elevating documentaries in the Philippines. Her notable producing credits include Respeto (Treb Monteras II, 2017), Apocalypse Child (Mario Cornejo, 2015) and a documentary she directed Kano: An American and His Harem (2010).
She produced Martika Escobar’s first feature, Leonor Will Never Die (Martika Ramirez Escobar, 2022), which won awards at the Sundance Film Festival 2022, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia 2022 and Toronto International Film Festival 2022. It had theatrical distributions in North America, UK, Ireland, Middle East, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Monster has a slate of films in development as This Side Up ramps up its Entertainment Division.