We're So ~Excited~ to Watch This Fantasy LGBT Film Set in the Philippines

Here's everything we know about "The Lovers" so far.
by Maia Ebora   |  Jun 23, 2023
Image: YouTube/The Lovers
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If you’re a fan of the enemies to lovers trope or the dystopian fantasy genre, we have the perfect film for you!

Introducing The Lovers, an animated dark fantasy short film about a seafood chef and a sirena set in Binondo, Manila. The Lovers is a sapphic enemies-to-lovers horror story, written in colloquial Tagalog to highlight the dynamics of a Filipino family. For indie company Studio Heartbreak, what started out as a napkin sketch is now becoming their most anticipated debut project, with its YouTube trailer gaining over 1.2 million views as of writing!

Read more about the film below if you can’t wait to watch it too: 


The film centers on seafood chef Sara Lim Baylon from Binondo, Manila. When faced with a decision to leave her dreams of going abroad after her father died, Sara finds herself taking on the role of head chef and soon inheriting Lidagat, their family restaurant. The story unfolds when the governor holds a private banquet, challenging Sara’s capabilities to bring Lidagat to its former glory. The banquet intended to have Sirena, an estranged mermaid, as the centerpiece, and Sara finds herself in a dangerous affair with the creature. 


In an exclusive interview with Candy, co-director A.S. Siopao shared that the whole concept was inspired by Masaru, a YouTuber specializing in fishing techniques and food preparation. Studio Heartbreak’s team wanted to explore the consequences of taking a creature from its home and placing it on a chopping board, while treading on conflicts that may arise in a dynamic between this creature and a chef. Aside from this unique concept, The Lovers also explores themes on identity, love, generational trauma, and body horror.

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The Lovers is set in a dark fantasy vision of the Philippines, where mythical creatures exist alongside humans. The co-director shared that they chose Binondo to bring forward an honest representation of Manila instead of going for a common backdrop like Europe or North America. The setting also reflects their past trips to Escolta in the past, their fascination with the architecture and history, and their intent to bring attention to Manila’s strong community of inspiring artists. 



Sara Lim Baylon is voiced by Vanille Velasquez, famously known for her work as Neon from Valorant. Sirena is voiced by Dawn M. Bennett, known as the English voice actor of Yukong in Honkai: Star Rail.

Release Date and Where to Watch 

The film is set to be released by July 2025 on YouTube and Studio Heartbreak’s website. For those wondering, the short film’s run time is expected to be around 12 minutes. Since Studio Heartbreak is an indie production company, they are operating through crowdsourced funds via Kickstarter! Those who support the film via Kickstarter are also awarded exclusive behind-the-scenes content, merch updates, and more.  


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Maia Ebora
"Parang iniisip ng mga tao na mataray ako, suplado, but actually may nafi-feel kasi ako sa umaga na bigat."