Wilfredo Manalang, who was one of the producers of last year’s Cannes’ Japanese hit “Plan 75,” has come on board Vietnamese film project “Don’t Cry, Butterfly.” Manalang (aka Will Fredo) and partners in his Philippines-based Fusee consortium will join as an executive producer.
Written and to be directed by Duong Dieu Linh, “Don’t Cry, Butterfly” follows a Vietnamese housewife who finds out that her husband is cheating on her. Instead of confronting him, she uses voodoo on him so he falls back in love with her.
Production of “Don’t Cry Butterfly” is by Tan Si En at Singapore-based Momo Film Co. The company was founded in 2018 by Tan and writer-director Kris Ong. In 2021, Beach House Pictures, part of Canada’s Blue Ant Media, acquired a majority stake in Momo.
Also on board “Don’t Cry, Butterfly” is the U.K.’s Adeline Arts and Science. Yulia Evina Bhara of Indonesian production outfit KawanKawan Media is co-producing. The film is scheduled to start principal photography in Vietnam later this year.
“Don’t Cry, Butterfly” is Duong Dieu Linh’s feature debut following a successful short film career. Her past titles “Adults Don’t Say Sorry,” “Mother, Daughter, Dreams” and “Sweet, Salty” form a series focused on sad and angst-ridden middle-aged Vietnamese women.
“This is a relatable story from Vietnam about family and sacrifice. Coupled with Linh’s unique sensibility, we are confident it will move audiences around the world,” said Tan.
At development and production stages, the title won the Wouter Barendrecht Award and Udine Focus Asia Award at the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), the Moulin d’Andé Prize at Open Doors Locarno and the Screen Award at the Motion Picture Assn.
It was developed with assistance from Less Is More, Full Circle Lab Philippines, Attagirl and Berlinale Co. Production Market. Most recently, it received grant funding from the Purin Pictures Production Fund.
“Asia has a rapidly growing film industry, with several countries such as China, India, South Korea and Japan as leading players with international recognition. It is equally as important to also make space for other emerging countries like Vietnam and the Philippines to showcase their talent, diverse stories and artistry. Fusee continues to proudly promote and advocate for Asian representation and partnership,” said Fusee MD George Sommerrock.
Vietnamese films, in particular, are enjoying new levels of success. “The House of No Man” (aka Nhà Bà Nu) launched in late January and attracted more than 3 million admissions in its first 10 days. Now it has overtaken “Avatar: The Way of Water” in the country. Veronica Ngo’s Vietnamese action film “Furies” (aka Thanh Sói – Cúc Dai Trong Dêm) was a major pickup for Netflix at the beginning of this year. And Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight section will play “Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell,” by director Pham Thien An.
“When [“Don’t Cry, Butterfly”] was presented to us, the sensibilities were familiar. I personally lived with Vietnamese people at the refugee camps in Morning Bataan, Philippines between 1991 to 1993. They have been a part of my life, my family. There’s a lot of talent from the Vietnamese people, and Linh Duong is one of them. It’s time for them to be heard and taken seriously,” said Fusee’s co-founder Alicia Catubay-Watt.
“After successfully working on the Japanese film, ‘Plan 75’ by Chie Hayakawa, our mission within Fusee has taken shape. It’s a natural extension for us to work with talents from Vietnam and Singapore. I look forward to experiencing Duong Dieu Linh, Tan Si En, Tran Thi Bich Ngoc and the rest of the team,” said Manalang.