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ANIMA Studios turns 7, announces new lineup including 2 Cinemalaya entries, festival closer, and Enrique Gil comeback comedy

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – ANIMA Studios celebrated its seven years in business with an after-dinner party that unveiled three of its big film projects this year: “Rookie,” “When This Is All Over,” and “I Am Not Big Bird.” The films, revealed via the aptly-titled celebration Future Horizons, reflect ANIMA’s passion for quality storytelling and pushing boundaries in the art of filmmaking and storytelling. 

Held at Ugly Duck Poblacion, Future Horizons also marked ANIMA’s 7th anniversary as a studio and its 1st anniversary as a business unit under KROMA Entertainment. ANIMA successfully rebranded from Globe Studios previously—an important milestone that paved the way for the studio’s notable growth and progress in the industry. 

In her opening speech, Head of Studio Bianca Balbuena proudly shared, “ANIMA Studios has embarked on a journey of growth, innovation, and creativity. We are committed to pushing the boundaries of storytelling and to paint the full spectrum of emotions across genres. We have films winning in Sundance, Toronto, Venice and Berlin. We have been nominated at the Emmys. We have fielded an entry to the Oscars. We have the first Netflix Originals film, the highest grossing MMFF entry at the height of the pandemic, and have provided content that trended to the number 1 spot in international streaming sites. We have discovered some of the new voices of Philippine cinema.”

Future Horizons also served as a platform for ANIMA Studios to celebrate the individuals behind and before the cameras through the years. “This event is not only a celebration of our accomplishments but also a tribute to the invaluable support and collaboration we have received from our esteemed collaborators, from directors, actors and writers, to our staff and crew, and to our homebase KROMA Entertainment,” Balbuena added. 

Two Cinemalaya Entries, a Festival Closer, and a Long-Awaited Comeback

The first film announced that evening was Cinemalaya entry “Rookie,” a coming-of-age love story of an awkward 6-foot teen who is forced to learn and play volleyball half-heartedly when the Catholic school she transferred to did not have a basketball team. Everything changed when she met their star player. Rookie stars Aya Fernandez and Pam Tingjuy, while Agot Isidro plays the team coach. “Rookie” was  written by Natts Jadaone and directed by Samantha Lee.

ANIMA’s second entry to Cinemalaya this year is “When This Is All Over,” a trippy, mind-bending story starring actor-musician Juan Karlos. The film revolves around the biggest illegal rave party the lockdown has ever seen— a response to the repressions caused by both social division and social distancing. “When This Is All Over” was directed by Kevin Mayuga.

“Rookie” and “When This Is All Over” will be shown at the 2023 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from August 5 to  14 as well as select SM and Ayala Cinemas from August 10 to 16. 

Closing out Cinemalaya is “Marupok AF (‘Where Is The Lie?’),” the Quark Henares-directed movie that has made the rounds in international festivals this year including Slamdance, the Udine Far East Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.  The dark comedy, inspired by a real-life Twitter thread on catfishing, stars EJ Jallorina, Royce Cabrera, and Maris Racal. 

The big reveal of the evening was the movie “I Am Not Big Bird,” a comedy-adventure that serves as a comeback project for Enrique Gil, who was last seen in the teleserye “Make It With You.” This also marks his first venture into film production. 

Set in the 2000s, the story follows a group of Filipino friends who go to Bangkok for a vacation. Chaos ensues when one of them gets thrust into unwanted attention because he is a look-alike of a famous Thai porn star named Big Bird. 

“I Am Not Big Bird” was written by Palanca Award winner Lilit Reyes and Joma Labayen (“John En Martian,” “Kusina Kings,” “Boy Bastos”) and directed by Victor Villanueva (“Patay na si Hesus,” “John En Martian,” “Boy Bastos”).  It will begin production soon and is slated for release also within the year. 

ANIMA is a Philippine-based entertainment studio under KROMA Entertainment that is committed to quality storytelling. ANIMA Studios has garnered critical acclaim and won numerous awards for its production of visually stunning and compelling stories that cut across genres including “Leonor Will Never Die,” “OTJ: The Missing 8,” and “Fan Girl.”