“Leonor Will Never Die,” by Martika Ramirez Escobar, screenwriter Sheila Francisco is in a coma – Do you believe Ma will awaken if we film her? In the most recent trailer for Martika Ramirez Escobar’s “Leonor Will Never Die,” the son of a retired movie superstar who is now unconscious begs. This year’s Sundance Film Festival had the global premiere of the family drama.
Escobar’s first film follows Leonor Reyes (Sheila Francisco), a pioneer in the 1980s Filipino action film industry, as she battles the effects of aging and mourns the tragic loss of her son. When she pulls up a long-forgotten script that she wrote, she is suddenly transported—quite literally—into the realm of fiction.
She is writing the script when a TV set falls and hits her in the head, putting her in a coma. The summary of the movie promises, “As she lays unconscious in the hospital, imagination and reality begin to blend,” and she discovers herself “alive within her screenplay, becoming the hero of her own narrative.”
Escobar informed us that “Leonor Will Never Die” is more than just the endearing tale of a former director who spends her last moments immersed in her own movie. She said, “It’s also about how I think of life as one big movie that we keep creating and rewriting until it’s finished.
Escobar also fills a gap in the history of Filipino cinema by writing and directing “Leonor Will Never Die”: “The thought that out of the hundreds of Filipino action films in the Philippines throughout history, none of them were about an action granny,” she remarked. Although this genre is commonly renowned for being masculine, I believe it is special to view it through a woman’s delicate eyes.
The character of Leonor, who was also her first main part in a movie, appealed to Francisco since it was a reimagining of a usually male-dominated genre. She admits, “I was extremely intrigued by the entire concept of a female scriptwriter for action pictures. I found it to be highly rare, particularly in the 1980s when men authors dominated that category.
And my director Martika is a youthful, perky female millennial, Francisco said. Simply put, the combo was too alluring to resist.
“Living Things,” a 2020 short film about a woman who discovers her lover has transformed into a cardboard cutout of himself, and “Quadrilaterals,” a 2017 documentary short that follows a family of Overseas Filipino Workers in Manila, are two of Escobar’s most recent works.
“Leonor Will Never Die” debuts on November 25 at the Metrograph in NYC and runs until December 2 at the Laemmle Royal and Laemmle Glendale in Los Angeles. An international release will come after.