Lilet Never Happened

Lilet Never Happened

by Jacco Groen

Synopsis | Cast & Crew | Technical Information

A character driven story about a 13 year old Philippine-American girl struggling to survive in the streets of Manila. Social worker, Claire, tries to save her but this hard headed girl thinks she can take her life in her own hands.

The film is based on interviews with Lilet, a little girl, who became Manila’s most famous street child.

Awards & Festivals

Jury Award for Best Feature Film at Sidney World Cinema Festival!
IN COMPETITION at Warsaw Film Festival.
Winner of "UNG Film Award" in Kristiansand Int. Film Festival
Russian Premiere in Moscow Int'l Film Festival - Minor Dutch Artists
Winner of the "Golden Castle" and the ASPI prize in Castellinaria FF (Switzerland)!
Best Director and Best Ensemble Cast at the International Film Festival Manhattan!
Best Actress for Sandy Talag (Lilet) at Oaxaca International Film Festival (Mexico)!
Jacco Groen's Lilet just won the Audience Award Best Film for youth at the Auburn International Film Festival (Australia)!
Lilet Never Happened by Jacco Groen won the Best Film for Youth award at Buster Film Festival!


Lilet: Sandy Talag
Claire: Johanna ter Steege
John: John Arcilla
Rosing: Angeli Bayani
Alice: Marifee Necessito
Nonoy: Tim Malabot
Mama Curing: Grace Constantino
Tessie: Dorothea Marabut

Director Bio

Jacco Groen was 18-year-old when he shot his first 35mm short film VADERTJE TIJD. He studied at the R.I.T.C.S. in Brussels and at the NFTVA in Amsterdam. He won several awards as a scriptwriter, and as a film director he made more than ten 35mm films. With his short film SOLINA (1994) he won three prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival. He is the managing director of Spring Film and co-founder of the Spring Film Foundation.

LILET NEVER HAPPENED is his first feature length film.

Director Statement

I met Lilet in 1997 while doing research for a documentary. She, 13 years old, stayed at a mental hospital, following a suicide attempt. She’d been the most popular child prostitute among Caucasian pedophiles for two years. With tears in her eyes she told me: “Everybody is only interested in my body but no one wants to know what’s under my skin. So I thought, when I’m dead they can have my body and I don’t feel it anymore”. For me she is the symbol of a broken mind in a perverted society. When I returned to Manila to make a documentary about her, she was nowhere to be found. After an intensive but fruitless search I decided to tell her story through a feature film. In my opinion she was the toughest and most battered girl I’ve ever met… and even 15 years later I remember her face like it was yesterday.


Script: Jacco Groen
Cinematographie: Jan Dellaert, Danny Elsen, Patrick Layugan
Editor: Sandor Soeteman 
Producer: Jacco Groen, Jamillah van der Hulst

Original title: Lilet Never Happened / Colour / 105 min /English and Philippine with English subtitles / The Netherlands/UK 2012

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