A Viral Catfishing Post Brought a Filipino Dark Comedic Thriller to the Slamdance Film Festival

Screening Room

MANILA, Philippines—The eagerly anticipated comeback feature of multi-award-winning filmmaker Quark Henares, based on a Twitter trending post that became a national obsession in the Philippines, will be released this year.

Marupok AF (Where Is The Lie?) is ANIMA Studios’ latest offering, and will have its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival at the Treasure Mountain Inn Ballroom, USA. It is based on the true story — but changed for dramatic purposes — of a transwoman who started a long thread about her experience being catfished.

Henares shares, “I am beyond thrilled that Marupok AF (Where Is The Lie?) is part of the Breakouts section of Slamdance. When I got the news that it was going to Slamdance, I was in a crowded movie theater with Liza Diño. We started screaming like fools.”

Image courtesy ANIMA STUDIOS PH

As someone who grew up watching and studying American Independent Cinema, Henares relives his love for the movies that premiered in Slamdance such as “The Daytrippers,” “Schizopolis,” Christopher Nolan’s “Following,” and Prime Video’s “The Vast of Night,” as well as his best friend and fellow Pinoy filmmaker Marie Jamora’s “Ang Nawawala.”

“Marupok AF (Where Is The Lie?)” is a dark comedy told from three different perspectives. With a powerhouse cast, the movie follows the story of hopeless romantic Janzen Torres, played by trans actress EJ Jallorina.  Janzen finds another chance at love when she matches with the handsome and seemingly perfect Theo Balmaceda (played by Royce Cabera) on a dating app. Unfortunately, on the day of their meet-up, Theo ghosts her, leading Janzen into an intricate web of deceit, lies, and catfishing orchestrated by sociopathic mastermind Beanie Landridos played by Maris Racal.

“It felt very important to us to tell this story,” shares ANIMA head and executive producer Bianca Balbuena. “The LGBTQIA+ community is constantly bullied in the Philippines, and it was inspiring to see this story of everyone coming to protect the original victim unfold in real time.”

Henares is an award-winning film, television and digital content creator who has directed and written six feature films and hundreds of commercials and music videos. He is known for having written and directed feature films such as “Rakenrol and Keka,” which Variety reviewed as “a refreshing change of pace for Philippine Cinema” and Quentin Tarantino called “a hell of a lot of fun.”

As the former head of Globe Studios (now ANIMA Studios), he was executive producer for films such as Lav Diaz’s “Season of The Devil,” Erik Matti’s “On The Job” and Independent Spirit nominee “Leonor Will Never Die.”