7-10 OCTOBER 2023
Asian Project Market

2023 Project

Filipinana Director Rafael MANUEL Country/Region Singapore / United Kingdom / Philippines
  • Producer Jeremy CHUA
  • Production Company Potocol, Deivós, Epicmedia
  • Writer Rafael MANUEL
  • Shooting Format 2K  |  color  |  100min
  • Genre Comedy
  • Project Status Financing
  • Goals at APM Financing, Equity partners, Sales agents
  • Total Budget USD 1,300,000
  • Financing in Place USD 600,000


New ‘tee-girl’ Isabel, feels strangely drawn to Dr. Palanca, the president of the country club where she works. But as Isabel starts to piece together a more violent picture of what lies behind the country club’s pristine facade, she comes to realize that what began as an innocent infatuation with Dr. Palanca is rooted in a more sinister, shared history.


The Alabang Country Club is a 74-hectare compound boasting enough facilities to keep the creme-de-la-creme of Philippine society distracted from and unaffected by the country’s many socio-political problems. Among these facilities is the driving range where Isabel (17) works. Isabel is a ‘tee-girl’ who spends her whole day teeing-up balls for golfers as they practice swinging their steel clubs just inches away from her face. Despite being new to the job, Isabel already finds herself indulging her curiosity and often escapes the driving range to explore the lush greenery of the surrounding golf course, which reminds her of the hometown she left behind.
Out on the golf course, Isabel encounters Dr. Palanca (60), the country club president. Isabel slowly develops an infatuation for the man who presides over the country club, and is eventually given an opportunity to meet him when tasked with returning one of his golf irons. Isabel wanders the various alcoves of the country club’s facilities in search of Dr. Palanca, but never seems able to find him. Instead, she uncovers a slew of situations involving country club members, employees, and a group of visiting Chinese tourists; tableaus that paint a clearer and more disenchanting portrait of the country club and Dr. Palanca. Eventually, Isabel realizes that what began as an innocent infatuation with Dr. Palanca is, in fact, rooted in a more sinister, shared history.

Director's Statement

To my mind, the golf course is a perfect metaphor for Philippine society; a very large and fertile area of land, toiled and worked upon by so many, but ultimately enjoyed by only a privileged few. Filipinana is a film about violence. But not the kind of violence with easily identifiable victims and perpetrators, such as murder or rape. Rather, I’m interested in exploring an audio-visual language capable of depicting less visible manifestations of violence. When one can see and hear this invisible kind of violence, one comes to realize that the sound of a golf club striking a golf ball sounds uncannily like a gun-shot.

Producer's Statement

Rafael Manuel’s first feature project is an expansion of his award-winning short (of the same title), using humor to observe Filipino reality through a rhythmic and lyrical construction of absurdities in the most banal and unassuming aspects of life. It is a language that captures modern ennui and existentialism in the growing income gap of a rising Southeast Asia, conveyed in a unique tone that allows audiences to laugh first and ponder later. This disillusionment is just one reflection of many he wants to convey of the Filipino condition, one that should resonate internationally. The feature’s form is minimally complex, non-classical, musical, and morbidly humorous, promising to cement Rafael’s reputation as a director of the future.

Director's Profile


Rafael Manuel is a Filipino filmmaker currently based between London, Amsterdam, and Manila. Among numerous awards and prizes he has received across festivals around the world, his latest short film, Filipinana (2020), won Silver Bear for Best Short Film at Berlin International Film Festival 2020. He is currently developing his first two feature films: Filipinana, based on his short of the same title, with the support of Film4, the Cannes Cinéfondation La Residence, the Berlinale Script Station, Tokyo Talents, Oxbelly Labs, and the Locarno Filmmakers Academy; and Patrimonio, with the support of the Hubert Bals Fund and the Prince Claus Seed Awards. In 2022, Rafael was chosen by Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke to be his protégé at the Rolex Arts Initiative. Rafael’s work in cinema has been featured by ARTE, the Criterion Collection, Variety, Screen Daily, Cineuropa, the New York Times, Forbes, and Vice.

Producer's Profile


Jeremy Chua is a Singaporean film producer and screenwriter. In 2014, he founded Singapore-based independent film label, Potocol, as a creative house for distinctive Asian auteurs to produce films, videos, and installations. Recent productions include Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An, 2023), winner of the Caméra d′Or at Cannes Film Festival 2023; Tomorrow is a Long Time (Jow Zhi Wei, 2023), screened at Berlin International Film Festival 2023; Last Shadow at First Light (Nicole Midori Woodford, 2023), screened at San Sebastian International Film Festival 2023; Autobiography (Makbul Mubarak, 2022), winner of a FIPRESCI Prize at Venice International Film Festival 2022; Glorious Ashes (Bui Thac Chuyen, 2022), which received Golden Montgolfiere at Nantes Three Continents Festival 2022; and Rehana Maryam Noor (Abdullah Mohammad Saad, 2021), Un Certain Regard Award nominee at Cannes Film Festival 2021.