By Neil Abbey
“In a world where females devour males during sex, Zack, a seventeen-year-old virgin is asked on his first date.” This sets the theme for Mantis Club, which has received Best Short Film nominations from six prestigious international film festivals in the US as of this time. Most notably at this year’s Oscar-qualifying Riverrun Film Festival and Deadcenter Film Festival.
The dark comedy, which had its World Premiere at the 10th Annapolis Film Festival last March, consistently draws attention from viewers with its concept of an imaginary world where women devour men during sex. It is frequently praised for its brilliant storyline and witty dialogue.
Filipino actor Anthony Sayo who plays the role of Max in this film adds, “I had great fun working on this film, and this is surely one my best projects to date.”
DG had the opportunity to speak to Yalian Li, Director for Mantis Club and Anthony Sayo, Filipino actor who plays Max.
Where did the inspiration stem from to get such a clever script? “The idea struck me back in 2017 during a road trip. Mantises devouring their partner after mating. What if that happened to us humans? How would our society be affected?” Li said.
“Women eating males” is a metaphor. The film is a dark comedy that functions as social commentary. It’s a satire. I wish the story simultaneously serves as an open window for the audiences to rethink the patriarchal and heteronormative elements we experience today. What is gender, and how does gender divide power? Is it based on our society, our history, or our biology?” “As a storyteller, I’m very passionate about making films that empower women. This was the golden opportunity to do just so.”
In the film, Max, who is portrayed by our own Anthony Sayo, is a member of ‘Bachelor’s Anonymous’. A group of men who share a common belief that women are aggressive, abusive, and just want to bed men to later devour them. Li continues, “In one scene, the audience is pulled into a ‘BA Meeting’ where Max expresses his resentment about an ex – girlfriend who cheated on him.”
Anthony was just right for the role. He exudes confidence and has a charming personality, but more significantly, he fulfilled every need that I had in mind for Max,” Li says. ” Max could be our typical playboy, but in this metaphor- and symbol-filled film, I intended to demonstrate just the opposite,” the director added.
Tell me about the time Yalian Li invited you to audition. “Yes! I was excited, and very intrigued with the storyline”, Sayo says. “When I got to read the audition pages for Max, I was truly impressed by how cleverly written and humorous they were. I told myself, ‘I would love to play this character.’ It was love at first sight.”
“Mantis Club is as intriguing as it is unique. Well-written and well-executed. I adore its funny and romantic aspects. The film is also philosophical and conveys a profound message,” Sayo concludes.
Mantis Club will be screened as an ‘Official Selection’ at the Catalina Film Festival this coming September 23-25 at Santa Catalina IsIand, Los Angeles.