The producers of Heneral Luna and acclaimed director Raya Martin (Buenas noches, España!) have teamed to film the upcoming adaptation of F.H. Batacan’s seminal mystery crime-thriller, Smaller and Smaller Circles. If that doesn’t give you the cinephilic tinglies, you might want to consider getting yourself checked.

But you already know this. T.B.A. (three of the country’s top independent film outfits一Tuko, Buchiboy, and Artikulo Uno一merged) has been hard at work producing great films. Look no further than , a film that still celebrates commercial success nearly a year after its initial release. Next on T.B.A.’s roster is Martin’s iteration of the greatly beloved literary work, Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles一and we have some exclusive details.

The film is set in the 90’s, and pivots around two Jesuit priests (Sid Lucero and Nonie Buencamino) investigating a string of gruesome child murders (let’s paint you a picture: the victims’ faces are sliced一with steady, almost-clinical precision一from ear to ear). It’s obvious that the culprit fits the “serial killer” profile, which, in the novel, is hardly an idea at all for the authorities. Hannibal Lecter lives exclusively stateside, supposedly. For the protagonists, however, that’s certainly untrue. What follows is an implosion to the dark, twisted mind of an unremorseful murderer; the film whirling, inevitably, through the politics, corruption, and fatalism of its milieu.

Carla Humphries as Joanna Bonifacio.

 Here’s the full synopsis:

In the teeming slums of Payatas, a killer preys on young boys leaving their eviscerated bodies in the garbage. Two Jesuit priests are tasked to solve the murders as they explore the cramped urban landscape of Manila—a trap where there is no way out for a killer and his victims.  

I have recently bumped into Ria Limjap, one of the film’s screenwriters, who, when asked about the country’s police force, as depicted as gravely lacking in the novel, said: “Of course [the film] is still relevant. Though I’m not a very political person, I think [the film] should be an awakening. The inefficiency and incompetence that we all have to deal with do not make us feel empowered.”

Smaller and Smaller Circles stars Lucero and Buencamino as Fr. Jerome Lucero and Fr. Gus Saenz, respectively, and Carla Humphries as journalist Joanna Bonifacio. Ricky Davao, Christopher De Leon, Junjun Quintana, Bembol Roco, T.J. Trinidad, and Jess Mendoza make the film’s stellar main cast. The film is co-written by Moira Lang and Ria Limjap. The film will open in Philippine theaters later this year.

Check out some exclusive behind-the-scenes photos:

This is a project that I’ve known for quite a long time now and have been itching to share with you, cinephiles. For one, the film, while no traditional story, marks Raya Martin’s first foray into a more “conventional” form of filmmaking (if you’re at all familiar with Martin’s filmography, you know SASC is something entirely different for the filmmaker). For another, it’s a unique story that I think we all need to hear. Expect that I’ll be tailing this news as it develops.

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