MANILA — Zsazsa Zaturnnah, the well-loved queer comics hero, is set to soar even higher with an animated film debut — a sure prospect now after its producers secured Swiss funding on Tuesday.
“Zsazsa Zaturnnah vs The Amazonistas of Planet X” was among the winners of the Open Doors program of Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival. The project will be given development support of 14,000 CHF, equivalent to around P750,000.
Filmmaker and animator Avid Liongoren announced the triumph Wednesday, recalling his virtual pitch for the jury presentation.
“I’m used to presenting to a big audience so I figured a Zoom presentation would be nothing. But it was actually more intimidating because all I can see are their poker faces & I was presenting a comedy film! I’m used to hearing a chuckle every time I explain the very concept of Zaturnnah of a shy gay man who swallows a space rock to become a female superhero,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Also, Locarno Festival is very intellectual & artsy, not really the place for a superhero film. But despite all that we were awarded one of the top prizes just now! I am all sweaty from dancing & dancing.”
Prior, the project was also awarded funding by the international project market of Bucheon Interantional Fantastic Film Festival in July. It’s set to make another pitch at a Hong Kong event, Liongoren previously said.
“More than the money, this is very important to us because it adds validation to the viability of this project. We have had so many rejections prior to this so it’s so awesome to have a win, our second win on our second market!” he said on Wednesday.
As in the comics series by Carlo Vergara, “Zsazsa Zaturnnah vs The Amazonistas of Planet X” follows the story of a gay beautician, Ada, who turns into a superheroine upon swallowing a melon-sized stone — a parody of the komiks icon Darna.
In a minute-long teaser released in April, Ada is shown transforming into Zsazsa, before she helps save a man from a wave of zombies.
This latest iteration of Zsazsa Zaturnnah comes 14 years after the material was first adapted for the big screen by Regal Films, and for a stage musical by Tanghalang Pilipino.