Dutch-Filipino film wins at Copenhagen filmfest

Best Youth Film for docu-styled drama on child prostitution

SNOW WHITE. Sandy Talag in a brave role. Screen grab from the trailer

MANILA, Philippines – “Once upon a time,” opens the film’s trailer, “there was a girl in the Philippines named Snow White. But one day, her mother and stepfather made her eat a poisoned apple.”

“Lilet Never Happened,” a riveting narrative on the Philippines’ underground sex trade, won Best Youth Film at the 2013 Copenhagen International Film Festival held September 5 to 15.

The film, by Dutch director Jacco Groen, stars Sandy Talag, as 11-year-old Filipino-American streetgirl Lilet.

The young girl, introduced as Snow White to “clients,” has big dreams of becoming an actress in order to lift herself and her brother from poverty.

Meanwhile, Gloria, a foreign social worker, tries desperately to save Snow White.

In an interview with Filmz TV, Groen recalled meeting a real-life Lilet who inspired him to make this film. He met the young girl in a mental hospital a day after she tried to commit suicide.

Despite the film’s earnest and complex themes, Groen said the movie is not meant to be depressing.

“This story never left my mind,” he said. “It’s not a depressing type of film because the girl I met is a tough kind of girl.”

Groen said a psychologist was on the set for consultation.

Sandy Talag, the film’s 15-year-old lead actress, said her imagination helped her to act out the scenes.

“I would imagine, ‘Okay, Sandy, this is not a taping, this is real. You’re on the streets and you’re selling your body just to have money, just to eat something.’ I just imagine things and, voilà,” she told Filmz TV.

Groen said the film is meant to reach out to the youth.

“’Lilet Never Happened’ is made for the younger audience, you need to reach the new generation who will say enough is enough, we cannot accept this anymore in a society that we call civilized.”

“With this movie, we really hope to raise awareness about the sad reality of child prostitutes not only in the Philippines, but all over the world.”

Watch the trailer here:

“Lilet Never Happened” has already been shown in more than 22 international film festivals in 2012.

In the coming months, the film will travel to Switzerland, Australia, Armenia, Dubai, and India. It will be shown in the Philippines in December.

Others in the cast are John Arcilla, Marife Necesito, and Dutch actress Johanna ter Steege. – Rappler.com

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