Philippines’ 85th Oscar Submission: Bwakaw   2 comments

Earlier this week, the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) already announced the country’s submission for the Foreign Language Film category for next February’s Academy Awards. Despite some initial backlash among some of the movies that were on the shortlist (released on two separate batches), they still made a very wise decision submitting this year’s Cinemalaya entry, Jun Lana’s “Bwakaw” for consideration and as the country’s official entry.

Bwakaw tells the story of Rene (played perfectly by Eddie Garcia), an old gay man living with only his dog, as he waits for his final days. Much to his surprise, it’s never too late to be opened to a lot of life’s treasured experiences.

This movie beats nine other films that were mentioned to be a part of the two batch shortlist that the FAP announced the past month. Those nine movies include Ron Morales’ Graceland, Jose Javier Reyes’  Mga Mumunting Lihim (Those Little Secrets), Brillante Mendoza’s Captive, Adolf Alix’s Busong (Palawan Fate), Alvin Yapan’s Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (The Dance of the Two Left Feet), Daryl dela Cruz’s Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story, John D. Lazatin’s A Mother Story, Joyce Bernal’s Segunda Mano, and Muhammad Yusuf’s The Witness.

As for starters, I think this is a very commendable and refreshing choice from the FAP. From the first batch, I would have chosen either Yapan’s Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa or Mendoza’s Captive as the country’s official submission. From the second batch, Morales’s Graceland and Lana’s Bwakaw seems to be the standout options. It’s really surprising that the committee went for one of those four, especially since the last few years have been nothing but weak to “What were they thinking” choices. As a recap…

2008: Soxy Topacio’s Ded na si Lolo a.k.a RP’s worst submission ever. I really don’t see why this was chosen by the Academy. It did not have any staggering reviews, did not make a splash at the box office, and was not even buzzed during that year. Ded na si Lolo is a comedy that tells the story of a six day wake of a big family’s patriarch that opened a lot of secrets, realizations, and acceptance among the members of the family. Up until now, I was not convinced that it was the best submission of the country that year, let alone, the shortlist. My vote would have gone to Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry Lola who just came off from a Cannes win earlier that year.

2009: Dondon Santos’ Noy a.k.a the FAP got carried away with the election. For this year, the Academy chose to be political and submitted the movie “Noy” which starred the country’s most prominent actor Coco Martin. In here, there’s a juxtaposition about then presidentiable Noynoy Aquino and how a reporter, incidentally named Noy as well, joins him during his campaign period. I remember how after all submissions were revealed, both RP and Brazil received flack for riding on the election bandwagon when the latter submitted “Lula, The Son of Brazil” as its submission. With that said, it is pretty much expected it will not be the film that will bring us our first nomination. My choice that year? Despite not being impressed with the shortlist, I guess I’ll have to go with Joel Lamangan’s family drama Sagrada Familia 

2010: Marlon Rivera’s Ang Babae sa Septic Tank a.k.a the Eugene Domingo lovefest. Coming off from a very solid buzz at last year’s Cinemalaya, this Eugene Domingo starrer is definitely a hit in the making. This satirical take on how three filmmakers wanted to have the perfect festival hit and the road towards it is definitely one of the better films that we have submitted (if we base it on the actual merits of the film). Non-Oscar aficionados thought that this will definitely bring some buzz as most voters will find it relatable (heck, it even had an Oscar trophy in its poster) and witty. But here lies the problem: the Academy, especially voters, are not fond of making fun of their business. Case in point: the 2006 film For Your Consideration starring Catherone O’Hara wherein she played an actress desperately wanting to get an Oscar nod only to see her heart broken when she was snubbed for a nomination. AMPAS ignored the film altogether that year. The same can be said for Septic Tank’s chances last year.

With that said, what do I think about Bwakaw’s Oscar chances? On one hand, it’s off to a good start by being a participant at the recently concluded Toronto Film Festival. It’s next stop is the pickier and stricter New York Film Festival, so that says something about the quality of the film. I’ve learned that it already has a distributor abroad, so that’s another plus for the film’s chances. All it has to do now is maintain the buzz that has initially started. If they can get more festival runs and screenings, then it will boost better word of mouth regarding the film.

On the downside, this might still get lost in the shuffle of all high profile films that debuted from the three biggest festivals this year. There’s already Austria’s Amour, France’s Intouchables, South Korea’s Pieta, Germany’s Barbara, and Romania’s Beyond the Hills. I’m not saying that Bwakaw doesn’t hold a candle to all the previously mentioned films in terms of quality, but seeing that we have not been nominated yet, all those other countries who are Oscar friendlier will have an easy route to gain buzz throughout the Oscar season.

In conclusion, I’m gonna be realistic here and say that so far, its chances are longshot at best. Is this the film that will bring us the coveted Oscar? No I don’t think so. Is this the movie that will give us our first nomination? I still don’t think so. Is this the movie that will make us enter the top nine short list? Probably.  Bwakaw needs A Separation type of consensus in order for us to go all the way this year. However, with all that said, this is one year where I’m really happy with our submission, and it gives me hope that yes, getting that Oscar nod and trophy is still possible. As for now, I’m contended with small steps on our way there.

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2 responses to “Philippines’ 85th Oscar Submission: Bwakaw

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  1. bakit??? i mean bakit ito?? it is a good film but for the oscars??? at hindi naman ito kasama sa shortlist na dapat pagpipilian kung anu ang ipapasa sa oscars… i thought CAPTIVE will be our submission for the 85th oscars…

  2. I THINK THE TOP 3 WE SHOULD SUBMIT TO THE OSCARS SHOULD BE:

    1. CAPTIVE
    2.MANILA KINGPIN: THE ASIONG SALONGA STORY
    3. SAYAW NG DALAWANG KALIWANG PAA

    I WAS LITTLE BIT DISAPPOINTED OF WHAT HAS THEY SUBMIT….

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