This Filipino Movie About Real-Life Catfishing Is Making Waves In International Film Festivals

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Inspired by a viral and controversial Twitter thread, Marupok AF (Where is the Lie?) is a dark-comedy thriller that should not miss your radar.

Do you remember that Twitter thread about a transgender woman’s experience of probably one of the most cruel and sickening forms of catfishing ever? We were just halfway through the first lockdown then when it got viral and taught us that somehow, somewhere, crazy and opportunistic people exist and will try and destroy your life in the worst way possible. And what we thought was just something straight out of a movie is now the inspiration of a new offering from Quark Henares called Marupok AF (Where Is The Lie), which has been getting some love (true love, this time) from international film festivals this year.

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When that thread was bravely shared, the heft of the case was so outrageous it enraged and terrified the hell out of us. Well, it seems that we’ll get to relive this moment as veteran filmmaker Quark Henares (executive producer of films like Leonor Will Never Die and On The Job: The Missing 8) has made a film that’s inspired by this very wicked story. Produced by ANIMA Studios, Marupok AF (Where is the Lie?) promises to leave you hooked (not catfished) by its witty writing, sharp performances and darkly comedic fare.

Marupok AF (Where is the Lie?) poster

It follows hopeless romantic Janzen Torres (EJ Jallorina), a lovelorn woman who finds another chance at love when she matches with the handsome and seemingly ideal Theo Balmaceda (Royce Cabrera) on a dating app. And you probably know what happens after that. Unfortunately, on the day of their meet-up, Janzen is ghosted by Theo, thrusting the former into an intricate web of deceit, lies, and evil-tier catfishing led by sociopathic mastermind Beanie Landridos (Maris Racal).

With an undoubtedly gripping premise, Where is the Lie? has already charmed audiences abroad with a warm reception in its worldwide premiere at the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival earlier this year. Selected in the Breakouts section, it’s the only Filipino film in the fest’s 29th edition, which aims to discover and “showcase the unfiltered voice of independent artists” with distinct visual styles and a unique cinematic voice. 

And this month, the much-anticipated dark comedy thriller continues its tour in the festival circuit as it has been recently selected for the 25th Udine Far East Film Festival (FEFF) in Italy. FEFF has been one of the leading cinematic events in Europe that promotes and develops the understanding and appreciation of Asian cinema. Together with Where Is The Lie? are Mikhail Red’s MMFF winner Deleter and Kenneth Dagatan’s Sundance-competing In My Mother’s Skin.

As if that’s not enough to get you excited about it, Where is the Lie? will also screen at the 39th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, an annual celebration of the best and brightest in Asian Pacific cinema. Having presented over 5,000 films, videos, and digital media works by Asian and Pacific Islander artists so far, this festival continues to be the largest of its kind in Southern California.

FEFF will run from April 21 to 29 while the LAAPFF will be held from May 4 to 13. While there’s no local screening dates yet, Where is the Lie? assures you of a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience that will make you laugh, cry, and question everything you thought you knew about love. And just by knowing its worldwide appeal from its major film festivals selections here and there, we know that we’re in for something special. And this is not catfishing.

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