In My Mother’s Skin

In Competition for the Mulberry Award for Best Screenplay


In My Mother’s Skin

The Philippines, 2023, 96’, Filipino
Directed by: Kenneth Dagatan
Screenplay: Kenneth Dagatan
Photography (color): Russell Morton
Editing: Kao Ming-Cheng
Production Design: Benjamin Padero, Carlo Tabije
Music: SiNg Wu
Sound Mix and Design: Eddie Huang, Chen Yi Ling
Producers: Bradley Liew, Bianca Balbuena, Huang Junxiang, Stefano Centini
Executive Producers: Eric Khoo, Lim Teck, Paulyn Chua
Cast: Beauty Gonzalez (Ligaya), Felicity Kyle Napuli (Tala), James Mavie Estrella (Bayani), Jasmine Curtis-Smith (The Fairy), Angeli Bayani (Amor), Arnold Reyes (Romualdo), Ronnie Lazaro (Antonio)

Date of First Release in Territory: TBA


In My Mother’s Skin is deep in the terrors of World War II, a chapter in Philippine history where the country is being tossed in between two imperial powers: Japan and the United States. It was during the Battle of Manila in 1945 where the Philippine capital was leveled by American forces into liberation, though with 100,000 Filipinos dead. In My Mother’s Skin approximates this gruesome massacre in its opening scene. Deep in the jungle, miles away from Manila, the war is still felt, looming like an overlord (“Did you hear about the baby that was bayoneted in Manila?” Bayani asks Tala as the film pans into their family’s manse). Filipinos like their father, Aldo, are desperate to return to a sense of normalcy, or even just have food on the table. He and Antonio assist the Japanese so that they can help their family throughout this ordeal. But Antonio wants one thing before the war finally comes to a halt – Japanese gold bars, which he suspects Aldo has hidden. In a huff, Aldo leaves his family to reach out to the Americans to find a way out for his family before the Japanese kill them all.
With their mother ill, Bayani and Tala act as the de facto mother and father of the house, with Bayani as the defender and Tala its light (Tala means “star” in Filipino). The uncertain fate of their father becomes more apparent as the weeks go by. Left to fend for themselves, the children go into the woods, where Tala meets the luminescent Fairy, garbed in the familiar colors of a Catholic statue, radiating a sinister comfort. Tala trusts in her to relieve her mother of her sickness, and she does – for a price. The sacrifice Tala has made intensifies the hunger that lives in their house and with a malevolent spirit behind it.
Many elements of In My Mother’s Skin feel familiar but Dagatan upends each of them (the haunted house, the forbidden woods, the Faustian evil spirit, etc.) to craft a tale that constantly devises a way to tell history as both fact and (terrifying) folklore. In My Mother’s Skin is reminiscent of tales that parents tell their children of what happened during the war, while simultaneously lacing them with horrific stories about dark and remote places where both Catholicism and ancient beliefs commingle, and sometimes even exist as opposing forces.
The dark fairy tale of In My Mother’s Skin operates as body horror while following the beats of the oral tradition. Creepy and cinematic in its carnage, In My Mother’s Skin will leave you haunted for days. 


Kenneth Dagatan


With the quietly gruesome Sanctissima, Kenneth Dagatan established himself as an emerging name in Philippine cinema. The film made waves at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival when it premiered in 2015. He followed it up with a brisk exercise in horrific anticipation, the four-minute Sleepy Eyes and then made his feature-length debut with Ma, a tropical nightmare of a young boy who just wants his mother back. Dagatan explores similar territory in his biggest film to date, In My Mother’s Skin, about a young girl desperate to get her family back who encounters a wily spirit in the woods and gives in to temptation. 


2018 – Ma
2023 – In My Mother’s Skin

Don Jaucian
Film director: Kenneth DAGATAN
Year: 2023
Running time: 97'
Country: The Philippines
22/04 - 12:00 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
22-04-2023 0:00 23-04-2023 01:37Europe/Rome In My Mother’s Skin Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine