‘Smaller and Smaller Circles’ is being adapted into a film; Raya Martin directs

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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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Polio makes a comeback in the Philippines 19 years after the country was declared free of the disease

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(CNN)The Philippines has reported its first case of polio since it was declared free of the childhood disease 19 years ago, dealing a blow to the campaign to eradicate it.

The World Health Organization said it was “very concerned” at the re-emergence of the disease in the country; UNICEF described it as “deeply disconcerting.”
A global campaign to eradicate polio was launched in 1998 and cases due to the wild poliovirus have decreased by more than 99% since then, from an estimated 350,000 cases to 33 reported cases in 2018, according to WHO.
    However, the disease is still present in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the emergence of new, vaccine-derived strains of polio have complicated efforts to rid the world of the disease.
    The last known case of wild poliovirus in the Philippines was in 1993. The country was declared wild polio-free in 2000 along with the rest of WHO’s Western Pacific Region.
    The Philippines case was unexpected and the country was not on a list of at-risk countries compiled by the Polio Global Eradication Initiative.

    Vaccination drive

    In addition to the confirmed and suspected cases, the polio virus was detected in samples taken from sewage in the capital, Manila, and in waterways in Davao, Mindanao, the country’s third-largest city, as part of the regular environmental surveillance, the department said. The samples were verified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Japan National Institute for Infectious Diseases.
    The government said it was preparing a rapid response to the outbreak in coordination with WHO and UNICEF, with a mass polio immunization campaign for all children under 5 starting in October.
    “We strongly urge parents, health workers and local governments to fully participate in the synchronized polio vaccination,” Philippines Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.
    “It is the only way to stop the polio outbreak and to protect your child against this paralyzing disease.”
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    Polio is an infectious disease which spreads rapidly. It can cause paralysis and, on rare occasions, can be fatal. There is no cure for polio — it can only be prevented with multiple doses of polio vaccines, WHO said.
    “Aside from immunization, we remind the public to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly, use toilets, drink safe water, and cook food thoroughly,” Duque added.
    Trust in vaccines was undermined in the Philippines after the government was forced to suspend a dengue fever vaccination program in 2017. The drug was distributed to more than 800,000 students as part of a school-based government immunization program, but was halted after clinical trial data showed that it could have unintended consequences in non-infected patients.

    Wild vs vaccine-derived polio

    The 3-year-old girl was found to have a vaccine-derived strain of polio virus type 2, which WHO said was of particular concern because the wild strain of this virus was eradicated in 2015.
    Philippines polio: The disease reappears 19 years after it was eradicated there - CNN
    Vaccine-derived polio happens when live strains of poliovirus that are used in the oral poliovirus vaccine mutate, spread and, in rare cases, trigger an outbreak. Most of the time the virus dies off but it can sometimes spread in an area where there is low vaccination coverage.
    “If a population is not sufficiently immunized, the weakened virus can continue to circulate. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more changes it undergoes. In rare instances, the virus can change to a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV), a form that has regained the ability to cause paralysis,” WHO said.
      “Poorly conducted immunization activities, when too few children have received the required three doses of polio vaccine, leave them susceptible to poliovirus, either from vaccine-derived or wild polioviruses. Full immunization protects them from both forms of the virus,” it added.

      Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

      So far in 2019, there have been 80 cases of vaccine-derived polio, not including the Philippines case, and 78 cases of the wild virus around the world, according to the Polio Global Eradication Initiative.

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