Archive for the ‘best foreign language film’ Tag

Philippines’ 90th Oscar Submission: Birdshot   2 comments

BirdshotThe Film Academy of the Philippines, in charge of choosing the submission for the Academy Awards, has announced earlier today that Mikhail Red’s Birdshot is the official entry of the country for the 90th Oscars. Birdshot bested seven other movies (Die Beautiful by Jun Lana; 1st SEM by Dexter Hernandez and Allan Ibanez; Ang Araw sa Likod Mo by Dominic Nuesa; Kita Kita by Sigfrid Bernardo; Ang Manananggal sa Unit 23B by Prime Cruz; Patay na si Hesus by Victor Villanueva; Triptiko by Miguel Franco Micelena; and Sunday Beauty Queen by Baby Ruth Villarama) in the process.

Birdshot is the first submission from 25-year old director Mikhail Red, son of Raymond Red, Cannes winning director for his short film Anino. The film premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival, was the opening film for this year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, and a winner at the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino last month.

The film tells the story of a young Filipino teenage girl who wanders into the boundaries of a Philippines reservation forest. Deep within the reservation, she mistakenly shoots and kills a critically endangered and protected Philippine eagle. As local authorities begin a manhunt to track down the poacher of a national bird, their investigation leads them to an even more horrific discovery. The film stars John Arcilla, Arnold Reyes, and newcomer Mary Joy Apostol.

How will Birdshot fare in the Oscar game? As for starters, it’s already competing against much high-profile films including Palme d’Or winner The Square from Sweden and other Cannes entries such as BPM (Beats Per Minute) from France, Germany’s In the Fade, Russia’s Loveless, and Austria’s Happy End. There are also other high profile contenders such as Chile’s A Fantastic Woman, Israel’s Foxtrot, Denmark’s You Disappear, and Cambodia’s First They Killed my Father directed by Oscar winner Angelina Jolie. In this regard, we’re lacking way, way behind to be noticed. Four of the last six winners in this category debuted at Cannes, one from Venice, and the other one from Toronto. We really need to put it out there/

That said, the local studio handling this is TBA Productions, also the people behind our 2015 submission Heneral Luna. While the film was not nominated nor did it advance in the shortlist, they’re a team that can use previous experience to their advantage and partner with an international distributor to assist them with their Oscar campaign.

It also helps that the film has this Western appeal, something that will not be hard for the committee to like and appreciate. This has always been a “barricade” of some sort of many of our previous entries from Anak in 2000 to Ang Babae sa Septic Tank in 2011. Birdshot is a movie that can appeal both to middlebrow and highbrow movie fans, so it can be in the running for both the popular vote and the committee save. It’s also difficult to crack how the committee save will be chosen. As per a source last year, the three “saved” films were Australia’s Tanna, Switzerland’s My Life as a Courgette, and Germany’s Toni Erdmann.

When I wrote about my potential Oscar submission analysis a few weeks ago, I predicted that it will either be Die Beautiful, Pauwi Na, or Birdshot that will be chosen as the Oscar submission. All of these will be decent picks, but it’s a year that’s tough for the country to penetrate and get that elusive Oscar nomination.

Maybe 2018 will be better for us.

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Posted September 26, 2017 by Nicol Latayan in Awards, Films

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81 Images from the 88th Oscar Best Foreign Language Film Submissions   1 comment

Earlier today, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences has released the final tally of the submissions for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. As per Academy rules, only one film can be submitted per country. Now here are 81 photos from the 81 submissions all vying to win the Oscar title which is currently held by Poland’s “Ida.

*all images are screen grabbed from the movie trailers from YouTube or Vimeo
*all descriptions are taken from summaries online

Afghanistan

1. Afghanistan (“UTOPIA”, directed by: Hassan Nazer)

It follows an Afghan woman as she travels to the U.K. for artificial insemination. Complications arise when a British student at the infertility clinic decides to swap the donor semen for his own and the woman finds out that he is from a family with a long history of military conflict in her homeland.

Albania

2. Albania (“BOTA”, directed by: Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci)

The story of Beni, a petty criminal and ladies’ man, and his beautiful young mistress, cafe waitress Nora, is set in an isolated café named Bota, located in a litter-strewn parched surroundings  once used for locking away opponents of the Communist regime, and serves as a bleak background for a richly creative tale woven with enduring images.

Algeria

3. Algeria (“TWILIGHT OF SHADOWS”, directed by: Mohammed Lakhdar Hamina)

1958 – Entrenched in its city in the heart of the Grand Erg, the Saintenac commander leads his ferocious war. Lambert’s arrival is perceived by Saintenac like a worm in the fruit, and the only way for the commander to beat it is to: “break the beak”. Lambert morally physically torturing Khaled, the son of the desert outraged by colonial injustice which is fighting for his dignity as a free man. Lambert refuses to execute Khaled and disarms the commander. Beyond this dark page of history, between beliefs and doubts, in the chaos of the war in Algeria, the men face their destiny.

Argentina

4. Argentina (“THE CLAN”, directed by: Pablo Trapero)

The true to life story of the prominent and highly feared Puccio crime family in Argentina as it recounts the astonishing true story of a seemingly normal middle-class family that trafficked in the kidnapping, ransoming and murder of the wealthy.

Australia

5. Australia (“ARROWS OF THE THUNDER DRAGON”, directed by: Greg Sneddon)

Set in the 1970s, the story follows brother and sister Kuenphen and Jamyang where in a remote Bhutanese village, they learn traditional archery from their old warrior grandfather. The respected but eccentric old man uses a heavy hand and strict discipline to train the young Kuenphen in the art of traditional archery. It becomes clear Kuenphen has opportunities to further his interests while sister Jamyang must stay home to weave, cook and get married; a fate the young woman is not willing to accept without a fight. When Kuenphen has to leave the village to take his mother on a 3 day walk to the old castle for medical treatment, Jamyang’s own desire to explore a wider world other than the norm of following her mothers traditional life is stimulated.

Austria

6. Austria (“GOODNIGHT MOMMY”, directed by: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala)

Twin brothers welcome back their mother who just underwent a cosmetic facial surgery. However, they noticed the changes not only in her physical demeanor which led them to be suspicious of her real identity.

Bangladesh

7. Bangladesh (“JALAL’S STORY”, directed by: Abu Shahed Emon)

This is the story of an infant, a child and teen named Jalal. The first story begins with Miraj, who rescues an abandoned baby from the river and raises him, calling him Jalal. However, after a series of misfortunes the villagers considered the baby to be a curse on their village. Poor Miraj has to abandon the baby yet back in the river again. The second story starts off with the nine-year-old Jalal who lives as a dependent of a large landowner, Karim, who desperately needs a baby to keep up his prestige informant of the villagers. As time passed by even after the series of incidents Karim’s Newly married wife was unable to conceive and eventually Jalal was bizarrely considered as a cause of the couple’s infertility problem by the clever Shaman hired by Karim. Jalal was thrown back in the river again. In the third story we see Nineteen-year-old Jalal works under a gang leader and budding politician named Sajib, who has kidnapped and impregnated Shila. He makes Jalal keep an eye on her, but Shila dies during a childbirth. Afraid that this child would affect his reputation and influence the result of the upcoming election, Sajib orders Jalal to throw the baby in the river. These three stories strangely connect and flow together as one.

Belgium

8. Belgium (“THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT”, directed by: Jaco Van Dormael)

The movie is a religious satire in which God exists and lives in Brussels, where he treats his wife and his young daughter very badly. In revenge, his daughter publishes everybody’s dying day on the internet.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

9. Bosnia and Herzegovina (“OUR EVERYDAY STORY”, directed by: Ines Tanović)

The film tells the story of a middle-class Sarajevo family struggling with their everyday problems.

Brazil

10. Brazil (“THE SECOND MOTHER”, directed by: Anna Muylaert)

Val has been a devoted live-in housemaid for a wealthy family in São Paulo for 13 years. From serving impeccable hors d’oeuvres at dinner parties, to keeping track of the father’s medicine regimen, to covering up for the teenage son (with whom she shares a deep emotional bond) when he gets in trouble, Val is a strong maternal figure in the household. One day, her daughter Jessica arrives from their hometown to take university entrance exams and has to stay with Val temporarily in the maid’s quarters. Ambitious, intelligent and with a rebellious streak, Jessica blatantly disregards previously unspoken, yet inviolable rules of the house—she frequents the family’s living and dining spaces and helps herself to the expensive ice cream. To Val’s despair, Jessica acts like a houseguest rather than the hired help’s kin. Slowly, strain in the household starts to rise as the matriarch’s initial polite acceptance of Jessica’s presence morphs into thinly veiled intolerance.

Bulgaria

11. Bulgaria (“THE JUDGEMENT”, directed by: Stephan Komandarev)

In a small and poor village in Bulgaria, located close to the border with Turkey and Greece, Mityo loses his job and is forced to accept to work for his former commander in order to keep his house and pay his loans. His job is to smuggle illegal immigrants from Syria through the Bulgarian-Turkish border into the EU. Since the death of his wife, the relations between Mityo and his son are strained. The revelation of a terrible secret will force Mityo to face the past, in order to regain his internal peace and find forgiveness from his son.

Cambodia

12. Cambodia (“THE LAST REEL”, directed by: Sotho Kulikar)

The Last Reel tells the story of a forgotten film discovered beneath the Killing Fields, revealing different versions of the truth. In an abandoned cinema, a rebellious teenager named Sophoun discovers an old film starring her mother, offering her the chance to dictate her own destiny, but at the cost of uncovering some dark secrets about her parents’ lives during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Canada

13. Canada (“FELIX AND MEIRA”, directed by: Maxime Giroux)

The story of a love affair between Francophone Quebecer Felix and a young Hasidic Jewish mother, Meira.

Chile

14. Chile (“THE CLUB”, directed by: Pablo Larrain)

The film draws us into the troubling world of Catholic clergymen living at the edge of the continent — and far beyond the moral boundaries of their faith, as they’re living their cozy exile disturbed by charges of molestation.

China

15. China (“GO AWAY MR. TUMOR”, directed by: Han Yan)

Based on the famous Chinese comic series created by online cartoonist Xiong Dun chronicling the  darkest hours of her life in a lighter and more amusing way. While fighting a malignant tumor, she wrote what became an explosively popular story and inspired millions of people with her optimism and courage.

Colombia

16. Colombia (“EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT”, directed by: Ciro Guerra)

The black-and-white film spans 40 years in the relationship between an Amazonian shaman and two
European scientists (played by Brionne Davis and Jan Bijvoet) as they search the jungle for a sacred healing plant in the early 20th century.

Costa Rica

17. Costa Rica (“IMPRISONED”, directed by: Esteban Ramírez)

A young girl gets involved in a family drama when she starts a secret friendship with a prison inmate. All parts involved, inside and outside, will have to deal with the consequences of such kind of relationship and what’s necessary to preserve it.

Croatia

18. Croatia (“THE HIGH SUN”, directed by: Dalibor Matanić)

A compassionate look at the recent history of war-torn Yugoslavia seen through the lens of the three different love stories, set in three consecutive decades in two neighboring villages.

Czech Republic

19. Czech Republic (“HOME CARE”, directed by: Slavek Horak)

Set in a Southern Moravian nursing home, the film tells the story of a nurse’s search for a cure for her own ailments that sets her off on a path of alternative medicine. The nurse Vlasta is helped in her quest by the daughter of one of her patients and her esoteric mentor.

Denmark

20. Denmark (“A WAR”, directed by: Tobias Lindholm)

“A War” is a drama about the consequences of war. It follows army officer Claus Michael Pedersen, who is stationed with his men in an Afghan province. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him — and his family back home.

Dominican Republic

21. Dominican Republic (“SAND DOLLARS”, directed by: Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas)

A Dominican Republic-set drama that follows the long-time relationship between a beautiful and impoverished young local girl and her wealthy European lover, which is put to the test as issues of class, inequality and exploitation are introduced.

Estonia

22. Estonia (“1944”, directed by: Elmo Nüganen)

The story of a country torn apart as the Red Army advances from one side and the Nazis conduct a fighting retreat from the other, the film tells the story of two brothers forced into choices that put them on opposing sides.

Ethiopia

23. Ethiopia (“LAMB”, directed by: Yared Zeleke)

When an Ethiopian boy moves in with distant relatives, he takes his pet sheep with him. But the upcoming holidays spell danger for his beloved friend.

Finland

24. Finland (“THE FENCER”, directed by: Klaus Härö)

A thriller based on a true Cold War story of an Estonian fencing champ on the run from the Soviet secret police, the film tells the story of fencing master Endel Nelis, who finds himself teaching children in a remote small town while on the run. When the kids push for their fencing team to take part in a national competition in Leningrad, he realizes exactly what he wants to do with his life.

France

25. France (“MUSTANG”, directed by: Deniz Gamze Ergüven)

The film follows five Turkish sisters who have their basic freedoms stripped from them as they become women.

Georgia

26. Georgia (“MOIRA”, directed by: Levan Tutberidze)

Moira tells the story of a poverty-stricken family living in a seaside city struggling to rise above the temptations of crime to make an honest living. After his release from prison, Mamuka is determined not to fall back into a life of crime, taking out a loan to buy a small fishing boat he and his unemployed younger brother name after Moira, the goddess of fate. But with a mother working abroad and a wheelchair-ridden father, the brothers find fate can be blind and merciless.

Germany

27. Germany (“LABYRINTH OF LIES”, directed by: Giulio Ricciarelli)

A young public prosecutor, Johann Radmann, sets out in the 1950s to expose the full story behind the mass killings at Auschwitz. This led to the first Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, in the face of great political and social opposition in West Germany.

Greece

28. Greece (“XENIA”, directed by: Panos H. Koutras)

It centers around a gay Cretan teen and his brother who seek their future and their estranged father in Greece.

Guatemala

29. Guatemala (“IXCANUL”, directed by: Jayro Bustamante)

The story of a young Mayan woman, living in a community of Kaqchikel-speaking coffee farmers, whose unwanted pregnancy brings her into final — and shocking — contact with the modern world she dreamt so much about, “Ixcanul” delivers a sucker punch about what Bustamante has called one driving theme of “Ixcanul”: the “impossibility of an underage woman, who is Mayan and lives far from a big city, to determine her own destiny.”

Hong Kong

30. Hong Kong (“TO THE FORE”, directed by: Dante Lam)

The sports drama caters to a team of cyclers whose team spirit gets put to the test by their competitiveness and pursuit of personal glory.

Hungary

31. Hungary (“SON OF SAUL”, directed by: László Nemes)

Son of Saul is set in Auschwitz in 1944 and follows, in a claustrophobic manner, Saul Auslander, a Jewish Hungarian enlisted to assist the Nazis in their mass killing. While working in the crematoriums, Saul sees the body of a boy he believes to be his son. He starts what seems to be an impossible task: to try and rescue the body to ensure it receives a proper Jewish burial.

Iceland

32. Iceland (“RAMS”, directed by: Grímur Hákonarson)

Set in a remote Icelandic farming valley where two brothers live side-by-side, but haven’t spoken in 40 years. When the entire valley comes under threat because of a lethal sheep disease, the brothers are forced to work together to save their prized flocks.

India

33. India (“COURT”, directed by: Chaitanya Tamhane)

It narrates the story of the trial of an ageing folk singer accused of performing an inflammatory song that may have incited a sewage worker to commit suicide in a manhole to expose the flaws of the Indian judicial system.

Iran

34. Iran (“MUHAMMAD: THE MESSENGER OF GOD”, directed by: Majid Majidi)

The film is a historical epic focused on the formative years of Islam’s last prophet and it’s the first installment in a three-part project about Muhammad’s life.

Iraq

35. Iraq (“MEMORIES ON STONE”, directed by: Shawkat Amin Korki)

The movie is about the struggles of a film crew while shooting a film in postwar Kurdistan after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Ireland

36. Ireland (“VIVA”, directed by: Paddy Breathnach)

The film tells the story of Jesus, an 18-year-old Cuban working in a drag bar in Havana whose life is shaken by the return of his long-lost father, a renowned former boxer who served 15 years in prison for murder.

Israel

37. Israel (“BABA JOON”, directed by: Yuval Delshad)

Yitzhakis proud to maintain the same turkey farm that his father built when the family moved from Iran to Israel. Now that Yitzhak’s son Moti is thirteen, the expectation is that he will learn the familial trade and, in his own time, take over the business. But Moti is more interested in reconstructing old cars and trucks, a trade for which he obviously has a tremendous talent. The rebellious boy is not at all shy about letting his father know that he has no interest in turkeys, but for Yitzhak this rejection isn’t just a matter of personal interest — it’s an insult to all the values he holds most dear.

Italy

38. Italy (“DON’T BE BAD”, directed by: Claudio Caligari)

Detailing the high-partying life of two young friends, the film explores the life of excess in 1995 Ostia. In a life filled with clubs, cars, cocaine and booze, Vittorio and Cesare can’t be separated. When the call to find a greater purpose threatens to pull them and their lifestyles apart, they struggle to keep their bond strong.

Ivory Coast

39. Ivory Coast (“RUN”, directed by: Philippe Lacôte)

We follow Run who has just killed the Ivoirian Prime Minister. To accomplish this, he transforms himself into a madman, lying in wait until the precise moment when the politician emerges in public. Using his “madness” as a cloak of invisibility, Run assassinates the leader and escapes with the help of fellow dissident Assa, played by Isaach de Bankolé, the latter of whom pays the ultimate price for his subversion.

Japan

40. Japan (“100 YEN LOVE”, directed by: Masaharu Take)

The film tells the story of a directionless singleton who becomes inspired by watching a middle-aged boxer at the local gym and decides to start training in the sport.

Jordan

41. Jordan (“THEEB”, directed by: Naji Abu Nowar)

Shot in the vast sandstone valley of Wadi Rum, Theeb is set in 1916 and tells the story of a young Bedouin boy struggling for survival in the midst of WWI as Ottoman forces fight to keep a grip on their crumbling empire.

Kazakhstan

42. Kazakhstan (“STRANGER”, directed by: Yermek Tursunov)

The film is the story of a young man, Ilyas, who survived the famine of the 30s, Stalinist deportation and WWII by retreating in a cave to live off the land, and finds himself battling society in a bid to retain his freedom. His secluded and nomadic life has not prepared him for the dramatic developments in his Soviet-era community, even though he tries his best to connect with the villagers.

Kosovo

43. Kosovo (“BABAI”, directed by: Visar Morina)

The movie tells the story of a 10-year-old boy after his father leaves to search for a better life in Germany.

Kyrgyzstan

44. Kyrgyzstan (“HEAVENLY NOMADIC”, directed by: Mirlan Abdykalykov)

An elderly herdsman, his wife, their daughter- in-law Shaiyr and their 7-year-old granddaughter, live together, occasionally visited by Shaiyr’s eldest son, Ulan, who studies in the city. Shaiyr’s husband has died many years before, swept away by the river, but she remains, unable to leave the bond of earth and beauty of the beguiling land. When a meteorologist Ermek moves to live nearby, Shaiyr’s measured life will never be the same again.

Latvia

45. Latvia (“MODRIS”, directed by: Juris Kursietis)

Based on a true story, the movie describes a conflict between a young man and his mother, and its dramatic consequences.

Lebanon

46. Lebanon (“VOID”, directed by: Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Zeina Makki, Tarek Korkomaz, Christelle Ighniades, Maria Abdel Karim, Salim Haber)

Six Lebanese women representing three generations, each one still waiting for the man in her life who was kidnapped during the Lebanese Civil War and is still missing. Their hidden emotional wounds are opened once again, one day prior to a protest in Beirut to keep their cause alive.

Lithuania

47. Lithuania (“THE SUMMER OF SANGAILE”, directed by: Alanté Kavaïté)

A bitter-sweet story of 17-year-old Sangaile’s desperate desire to learn to fly, balanced by a neurotic fear of flying and her unfolding relationship with artistic dress designer Auste.

Luxembourg

48. Luxembourg (“BABY(A)LONE”, directed by: Donato Rotunno)

Adapted from Tullio Forgiarini’s novel “Amok,” Baby(A)lone” takes place in an affluent, contemporary Europe and centers on a girl and a boy who forge a unique partnership which involves violence but is meant to help them find love and hope.

Macedonia

49. Macedonia (“HONEY NIGHT”, directed by: Ivo Trajkov)

The film is a family and political drama focused on the night a senior government minister and his wife mark their 10th wedding anniversary. Set in Skopje in the early 1990s, the story of deputy minister Nikola and his wife Ana is an adaptation of 1970 Czech movie The Ear.

Malaysia

50. Malaysia (“MEN WHO SAVE THE WORLD”, directed by: Liew Seng Tat)

The film revolves around a group of comical villagers who spring into action after the owner of an abandoned house decides to restore it as a wedding present for his daughter. Through a series of unfortunate events, the house attracts what the men believe to be a spirit, and they band together in an effort to protect their village. The ensuing action includes everything from a missing camel to cross-dressing sequences.

Mexico

51. Mexico (“600 MILES”, directed by: Gabriel Ripstein)

An American ATF agent gets kidnapped by a young Mexican man who works smuggling weapons across the U.S./Mexico border. The odd friendship that develops between them attempts to humanize the complicated relationship between the two countries.

Montenegro

52. Montenegro (“YOU CARRY ME”, directed by: Ivona Juka)

The film tells three loosely connected stories that intertwine in the workplace of three characters – namely a soap-opera set.

Morocco

53. Morocco (“AIDA”, directed by: Driss Mrini)

A music teacher living in Paris battles a malignant tumor. Convinced that her days are numbered, she then decides to return to Morocco to reconnect with her roots and regain forgotten childhood memories.

Nepal

54. Nepal (“TALAKJUNG VS. TULKE”, directed by: Basnet Nischal)

The film follows a village laborer who dreams of regaining his former aristocratic identity. A revolution sets off a chain of events that forces him to the city and he returns armed with the tools that will allow him to seek revenge on those who had wronged him and his family.

Netherlands

55. Netherlands (“THE PARADISE SUITE”, directed by: Joost van Ginkel)

The depiction of the lives of six people (young Bulgarian woman, an African woman, Serbian war criminal, a Bosnian man, a Swedish piano protege and his father) from different places and backgrounds who become inextricably linked in Amsterdam.

Norway

56. Norway (“THE WAVE”, directed by: Roar Uthaug)

The film is based on the 1934 real-life tsunami in Norway’s Tafjord, which left 40 people dead. Set at Geiranger Fjord, one of Norway’s top tourist attractions, it takes place in contemporary Norway and centers around a geologist who realizes the inferno is about to hit.

Pakistan

57. Pakistan (“MOOR”, directed by: Jami)

Focusing on the country’s declining railway system, the drama revolves around the story of a station master and his son after the sudden death of the station master’s wife.

Palestine

58. Palestine (“THE WANTED 18”, directed by: Amer Shomali, Paul Cowan)

It tells the true story of a Palestinian committee in the town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, that purchased a herd of cows from a friendly kibbutz owner and used them in a bid to undermine Israeli control.

Paraguay

59. Paraguay (“CLOUDY TIMES”, directed by: Arami Ullón)

A documentary film directed by Arami Ullon about her relationship with her ageing mother, who suffers from epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

Peru

60. Peru (“NN”, directed by: Héctor Gálvez)

A Peruvian forensic team, tasked with exhuming the remains of a group of people who were made to “disappear” some 25 years earlier, finds an unexpected additional John Doe, the only clue being small photograph of a woman found on his person. Fidel undertakes the long, complicated work of identifying the body, and must navigate the still-raw emotions of the families of the disappeared.

Philippines

61. Philippines (“HENERAL LUNA”, directed by: Jerrold Tarog)

Set during the Philippine-American war, the film covers the period from the time Filipino hero General Antonio Luna was assigned to be the head of the revolutionary army as general in the Philippines to his assassination.

Poland

62. Poland (“11 MINUTES”, directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski)

The movie narrates the stories of several characters (an American film producer plays cat- and-mouse with a young actress while her husband tries frantically to reach her in the hotel room where the “audition” is taking place; a hot-dog vendor sells sausages in the street; a motorcycle courier pulls off near-miracles trying to dodge another jealous husband; a young man plans to break into a pawnshop) over the course of eleven minutes on a single day in Warsaw.

Portugal

63. Portugal (“ARABIAN NIGHTS: VOLUME 2, THE DESOLATE ONE”, directed by: Miguel Gomes)

Three tales are told by the mythical narrator Scheherazade — that of an escaped murderer who ended up being a hero, a courtroom fiasco over a unique case, and a Maltese poodle shuttled among multiple owners.

Romania

64. Romania (“AFERIM!”, directed by: Radu Jude)

Set in Eastern Europe in 1835, two riders cross a barren landscape in the middle of Wallachia. They are the gendarme Costandin and his son. Together they are searching for a gypsy slave who has run away from his nobleman master and is suspected of having an affair with the noble’s wife. On their odyssey they encounter people of different nationalities and beliefs. Each harbors prejudices against the others, which have been passed down from generation to generation.

Russia

65. Russia (“SUNSTROKE”, directed by: Nikita Mikhalkov)

Based on a short story by Ivan Bunin, the first Russian author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature back in 1933, the film tells a love story, set against the backdrop of the Russian civil war of the late 1910s and early 1920s.

Serbia

66. Serbia (“ENCLAVE”, directed by: Goran Radovanović)

Focused on a tiny Serb community living in a UN- protected enclave in Muslim Kosovo, Enclave looks at the legacy of ethnic cleansing and internecine conflict through the eyes of a small boy, Nenad. Every day Nenad is taken to school from his father’s farm in a KFOR armored car to study alone in a school with no other pupils. Like any other boy of his age, all Nenad wants are some friends his own age. Each day, through narrow observation slits in the military vehicle he sees two Albanian boys and a shepherd boy – who has lost his father in the war and hates Serbs.

Singapore

67. Singapore (“7 LETTERS”, directed by: Royston Tan, Kelvin Tong, Eric Khoo, Jack Neo, Tan Pin Pin, Boo Junfeng, K. Rajagopal)

An omnibus anthology of seven different short films tackling the identity and culture of Singapore.

Slovakia

68. Slovakia (“GOAT”, directed by: Ivan Ostrochovský)

Former boxing great Peter – played by Peter Baláž, part of Slovakia’s 1996 Olympic boxing team – is in a bind. His girlfriend is pregnant but they can’t afford another child and now they need to find the €400 required for an abortion. Out of options, Peter decides to make a return to the ring, but up against unscrupulous promoters and boxers half his age, it’s all he can do just to survive.

Slovenia

69. Slovenia (“THE TREE”, directed by: Sonja Prosenc)

The Tree is a drama centered on a family that finds its safety behind the walls of their own house. As time goes by, their shelter slowly turns into a prison, but nothing can keep the children from yearning to be free.

South Africa

70. South Africa (“THE TWO OF US”, directed by: Ernest Nkosi)

Set in Alexandra, South Africa’s largest township, “Thina Sobabili” tells the story of two siblings who escape tragedy in the impoverished slum to build a life together.

South Korea

71. South Korea (“THE THRONE”, directed by: Lee Joon-ik)

The film is about the brutal tale of a prince who was deemed unfit to rule and was locked in a rice chest by his father.

Spain

72. Spain (“FLOWERS”, directed by: Jon Garaño, Jose Mari Goenaga)

In the film, a woman named Ane mysteriously receives flowers regularly. After her secret admirer is unexpectedly killed in a car accident, she discovers the truth of his identity. When she begins to leave flowers at the site of his death once a week, it catches the attention of the man’s widow and mother, who discover there was more to him than they knew.

Sweden

73. Sweden (“A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON EXISTENCE”, directed by: Roy Andersson)

The last in Roy Andersson’s trilogy about quiet desperation, the film consists of a series of comic vignettes tied together through the misadventures of two traveling salesmen peddling novelty items.

Switzerland

74. Switzerland (“IRAQI ODYSSEY”, directed by: Samir)

Director Samir tells the story of his globalised middle-class Iraqi family, scattered between Auckland, Moscow, Paris, London and Buffalo, New York. It shows Iraqis as secular, cultured and open to the world in contrast to how they are normally portrayed in the media.

Taiwan

75. Taiwan (“THE ASSASSIN”, directed by: Hou Hsiao-hsien)

The movie is set in 9th-century China, where a young woman is abducted as a child from a decorated general and raised by a nun. She is trained in martial arts and returned as an exceptional assassin, after 13 years of exile, to the land of her birth, with orders to kill her betrothed husband-to-be.

Thailand

76. Thailand (“HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME)”, directed by: Josh Kim)

Adapted from a book of short stories by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, the film is set in a small Thai town and tells the coming-of-age story of an 11- year-old boy who tries to prevent his gay older brother from being drafted into the military.

Turkey

77. Turkey (“SIVAS”, directed by: Kaan Müjdeci)

The story about a boy and his dog with a brutal twist set in the archaic world of rural eastern Anatolia, the movie unfolds in the violent world of dog-fighting with its pint-sized antagonist and his faithful friend Sivas, the film depicts the harsh world it lives in.

United Kingdom

78. United Kingdom (“UNDER MILK WOOD”, directed by: Kevin Allen)

Residents of a fictional Welsh community share stories and poems of their life in their seaside town in an adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ much loved classic of modern British poetry.

Uruguay

79. Uruguay (“A MOONLESS NIGHT”, directed by: Germán Tejeira)

A divorced cab driver shows up with a black eye at the home of His ex-wife’s new family; he’s Been invited to dinner and I desperately wants to reconnect With His young daughter. A professional magician’s car breaks down and I ends up spending an emotionally intense night with a young, widowed toll booth worker. A singer-songwriter serving a lengthy prison sentence is released for one night to perform at a local community center. These three deeply Engaging Stories About unfold yearning for connection in parallel, one New Year’s Eve in a small town in Central Uruguay.

Venezuela

80. Venezuela (“GONE WITH THE RIVER”, directed by: Mario Crespo)

Dauna is subject to the rigid conventions of an ancient culture. For her, life on the Orinoco delta cultivated a strong curiosity for what lies beyond the river. Her natural talent for language and learning was always nurtured by her family and Father Julio. Tarcisio, her childhood sweetheart, also patiently supports her, but doesn’t know how to deal with social pressure in the Warao community. Dauna is sure of her love for Tarcisio but fears he will succumb to what tradition dictates, thwarting her ambition for academic development.

Vietnam

81. Vietnam (“JACKPOT, directed by: Dustin Nguyen)

The film is based on the real-life story of a poor, southern Vietnamese lottery ticket seller named Lanh. One day in 2011, Lanh made a casual verbal agreement to sell some tickets to a deliveryman who promised to pay and pick them up later. Lanh later learned that one of the tickets she had set aside for the driver, which he hadn’t yet paid for, had won $300,000. Instead of cashing it in herself, she tracked down the unknowing driver to inform him of his good fortune and hand over the winner.
To check out the trailers of the entries this year, head over to Nathaniel R’s The Film Experience as he compiled it there.

Talk to me about it on Twitter: @nikowl

85th Oscar Master List Nomination Predictions   2 comments

The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards will be unveiled six days from now, and a lot of the precursors have already released their choices in Hollywood cinema for 2012. The first master list that I did last year went actually great. In the top 8 major categories I included last year, I had a 95% correct rate in the predictions missing only Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Max Von Sydow for Supporting Actor for the same movie. 

To clear things though, this is a master list of possible predictions meaning that these are the possible final contenders vying for each category. If you are joining any Oscar nomination prediction contest, then this is pretty much what you can use as a reference point. Also, I’ll be including those shortlists from the Academy in some of the technical categories. Here we go!

picture

BEST PICTURE

Amour
Argo

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

There’s a huge possibility that we’d get ten nominations for Best Picture this year, as there have been lots of passionate supporters of the movies we have in contention for the top honor. With that said, those who are safer are Argo, Django Unchained, Les Miserableles, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty. Both Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom are safe bets, too, though they probably fit the likes of filler nominees. As for the rest, there’s a chance that we can hear them nominated but guilds aren’t too fond of Amour (let’s see how it catches up with other guilds), The Master (not even at the SAG and the art directions guild), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (can be supported by the British bloc and the age correlation of Oscar voters).

director

BEST DIRECTOR

Ben Affleck, Argo
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Katheryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained

And it all boils down to eight. Affleck, Spielberg, and Bigelow are safe for now. Ang Lee seems to be a director’s favorite, as he’s rewarded with nominations for all his past Oscar efforts. He’d also be getting a DGA nomination and has won that twice so he ahs the support of his own guild. The last spot is somehow tricky. David O. Russell seems the likeliest fifth contender, especially for all his efforts in Silver Linings Playbook. Thanks to The Fighter, it’s now easier for him to throw his name in the game. Quentin Tarantino can also fill up the last spot, as most of his efforts (especially those with Oscar buzz) has specified out his direction. It’s also a flashy performance that can resonate well with voters. Then there’s also Tom Hooper. I really don’t think he’s out per se, though that Globe snub was a big miss. He pulled off the surprise win in 2010 both at the Oscar and the DGA, so he must really have fans within the Academy. Then Paul Thomas Anderson can still sneak in his way to a nod if he maintains a solid passion among voters ala Terrence Malick last year.

lead actors

BEST ACTOR

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Jean Louis Trintignant, Amour
Denzel Washington, Flight

Technically, this is just a six way race for the nomination but before we shock ourselves with a Daniel Day Lewis sweep within the next few weeks, here’s a more interesting race to look at. Daniel Day Lewis is in. No questions about that. Then, I’d say Bradley Cooper is also in. He got all the necessary precursors, won a critics award, newbie nominee, and has Harvey Weinstein on his back. That’s as sure as one can get. The next few slots can be tricky, but here’s the way I see the race. Hugh Jackman is in third. Les Mis is a box office juggernaut now, and  its critical appeal is slowly rebuilding its momentum. Plus he’s like the most likable man in Hollywood now. Denzel Washington comes next. He’s a major Hollywood superstar in a comeback Oscar vehicle. Think of it as a sure but filler Oscar nomination. The last spot is between John Hawkes and Joaquin Phoenix. Hawkes plays an Oscar weakness role but is in a really small movie. Meanwhile, Joaquin is funded by Harvey but the nature of his role plus his utter bluntness about the whole Oscar fare can affect his chances. It’s really a battle. As for Richard Gere, congrats on your Globe nod, and Trintignant on your EFA win!

lead actress

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Actress is also crowded this year. First, we have the frontrunners Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. They’re in. No Matter what happens, they’re getting in. Next will probably be Naomi Watts and Marion Cotillard. Both are the flagship accolades that their movies can get and has hit all precursors so far. The fifth slot can be tricky and is between five women. Helen Mirren can get in especially since she only needed a Globe and SAG nod when she got nominated for The Last Station and she got the same nods now. Quvenzhane Wallis is one of the year’s biggest breakthrough talents, and if there’s really a Beasts following, then it’s hard to see her miss. Emmanuelle Riva has the LAFCA win behind her, but no other precursors. However, it had the likes of Nicole Kidman buzzing about her performance. Then we have Rachel Weisz too, who got a Globe nod along her NY critics win, so she’s still in the race as well.

supporting actor

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin, Argo
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Robert de Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Leonardo di Caprio, Django Unchained
Dwight Henry. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Now this is the most crowded major category for this year. I still think there’s room for a few more contenders that were not mentioned here, and I won’t be shocked if this will ruin (once again) my predicting skills this year. The only safe man here is Tommy Lee Jones. The rest can still miss though we’d have (in alphabetical order) Alan Arkin who was rewarded for a similar role so Oscar might not bother this time, Javier Bardem who was memorable in Skyfall but was rewarded for a far more iconic villain in this category  in 2007. Both Django Unchained guys can cancel themselves out especially in a crowded category like this. Hoffman is an actor’s actor, and he can get in even if the movie’s not a hit, but he can also cancel himself this year as The Master isn’t getting any support at all. de Niro also is a huge possibility, but with all the accolades focusing on lead stars Cooper and Lawrence, he might sit this one out as well. Lastly, Henry is the newbie we might be waiting here (since there’s always a newbie in the line up since the category’s inception), but he can also easily miss due to lack of precursor support for the performances in Beasts of the Southern Wild.

supporting actress

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, The Master
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hathaway, Field, and Hunt are sure bets. There’s no way they’re missing for a nod this year. However, the last two spots can still be a race for five actresses. Amy Adams seems like a sure thing, but with a SAG miss this year, she haven’t had any past Oscar nom that translated despite a  SAG snub. This might be telling. Judi Dench can get a farewell nom for her Bond work, and this can also their way of recognizing her good year. But then again, Bond films doesn’t attract serious buzz within the Academy. Ann Dowd is slowly gaining momentum, but the nature of the film can hurt her the way it hurt Tilda Swinton last year despite getting all precursor nominations. Nicole Kidman got Globe + SAG nods, and while it’s actually a strong combo, the dislike of the film and her role in it can turn off some voters. Lastly, Maggie Smith got a SAG nod only in her name, but she’s Dame Maggie Smith, and that can be enough campaign for her… or not.

As for the rest of the race:

original screenplay

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Amour
Django Unchained
Flight
The Intouchables
Looper
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

adapted screenplay

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Sessions
Silver Linings Playbook

animated feature

ANIMATED FEATURE

Brave
Frankenweenie
From the Poppy Hill
Hotel Transylvania
The Painting
Paranorman
The Pirates: Legend of the Misfits
The Rabbi’s Cat
Rise of the Guardians
Wreck it Ralph

foreign language film

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Amour (Austria)
Beyond the Hills (Romania)
The Deep (Iceland)
The Intouchables (France)
Kon-tiki (Norway)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
Sister (Switzerland)
War Witch (Canada)

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Bully
Chasing Ice
Detropia
Ethel
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
The House I Live In
How to Survive a Plague
The Imposter
The Invisible War
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
Searching for Sugar Man
This is Not a Film
The Waiting Room

BEST MAKE UP AND HAIRSTYLING

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Looper
Men in Black 3
Snow White and the Huntsman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Amazing Spider-Man
Cloud Atlas
The Dark Knight Rises
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
John Carter
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Skyfall
Snow White and the Huntsman

As for my Oscar nominations predictions, they’ll be posted here on Tuesday. Happy Oscar predicting!

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

Top Local Movies of 2012   8 comments

2012 in cinema is probably one of the most enjoyable in a while. I liked a lot of the movies that I’ve seen this year, (though maybe I really avoided the bad ones? LOL), and a lot of these films would have topped any other weaker years. On top of that, we’ve also seen a lot of impeccable performances from these films. Mind you, while I have seen 60+ local films this year, there’s a lot left still to be seen. Despite that, I feel that 2012 is one of the better years in recent Filipino cinema, and here are 12 reasons why:

Unofficially Yours

12: UNOFFICIALLY YOURS

Arguably, the best output from commercial filmmaking this year is this Cathy Garcia Molina’s relationship story between two people that sprouted from a one night stand. Molina has really mastered how to make supposedly conventional studio produced films more engaging and interesting. Also, watch out for John Lloyd Cruz and Angel Locsin’s palpable chemistry here.

MNL 143

11. MNL 143

I’m a sucker of travel/road movies. With that said, Emerson Reyes’s first feature length film is a poignant love story of a man (Allan Paule) who’s looking for the woman of his life is something that’s easier to relate to; not the search per se, but the longing and the optimism for it to finally arrive is a familiar feeling that can resonate well to its viewers.

Requieme

10. REquieme!

Loy Arcenas’ consecutive Cinemalaya entry is a dark comedy that focuses on Swanie, a barangay captain who involves herself as a relative of a suspect in an international murder case. With a witty screenplay and Shamaine Buencamino’s effective portrayal as Swanie and breakthrough talent Anthony Falcon, the movie is definitely one of 2012’s brightest spots.

Pascalina

09. PASCALINA

This Cinema One Originals winner which was also Pam Miras’s feature debut about one’s self discovery about her monsters within is one of the surprise entries in my list. Not because it is bad, but because I liked and appreciated it better days after seeing it. Oh, and if Maria Veronica Santiago’s performance in the title role won’t charm you enough, then I don’t know what will.

Ang Nawawala

08. ANG NAWAWALA

Another first feature effort this year, this time by Marie Jamora, Ang Nawawala is bound to be a cult classic. Yes, it probably caters to a younger crowd, to those in the middle status, or to those who are into local music scene, but one universal thing that I sure can relate to is how it connects you back to yourself. Plus points for the eye candy production design and the compilation soundtrack.

Bwakaw

07. BWAKAW

The Philippines’ submission to the Oscar Foreign Language Film category this year (and its best submission in years, I must say) is this little gem by Jun Lana about an old gay man living alone with only his dog named Bwakaw, and how he tries to make the most out of his remaining days. It’s just one of the most heartfelt films of the year that makes you laugh and cry while watching. Also, Eddie Garcia’s performance is to watch for here.

Thy Womb

06. THY WOMB

Brillante Mendoza’s Venice entry this year is also the comeback vehicle of one of the Philippines’ greatest actresses to date, the Superstar Nora Aunor. I guess my favorite aspect of the film is how it showcased to us this little gem of a place called Tawi-Tawi, and how the film introduced us to its culture. That, and of course La Aunor’s towering performance in it.

Ang Paglalakbay ng Mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim

05. ANG PAGLALAKBAY NG MGA BITUIN SA GABING MADILIM

My favorite from the whole Cinema One Originals bunch this year is Arnel Mardoquio’s feature about the escape of three Muslim rebels, together with a ten year old child in the midst of the Bangsa Moro issues in Mindanao. But unlike any previous Mindanao related war-themed films, this one stands out because it’s  does not lecture you. And within this silence is where the actual emotions linger.

Give Up Tomorrow

04. GIVE UP TOMORROW

This Filipino/Spanish/American production directed by Michael Collins on what was labeled as the trial of the century in the Philippines (the involvement of  Paco Larrañaga to the disappearance of the Chiong sisters) is one film that probably triggered the most emotions while watching. The film for the most part was half maddening and half heartbreaking. But it probably contains one of my most favorite quotes of the year when Paco said “If you want to give up, give up tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, then give up tomorrow.

Aparisyon

03. APARISYON

Vincent Sandoval’s Cinemalaya entry about the secluded lives of nuns in a monastery in 1972. The film’s strength lies in its capability to build an atmosphere that was intense and arresting that once the movie hits it middle part, you just feel as if you’re a part of it. If you’re into the technical aspect, this movie also boasts of a complete top notch production values: neat production design,  applicable costumes, captivating cinematography, polished editing, and haunting score.

Graceland

02. GRACELAND

Ron Morales’s Tribeca entry about a loyal driver caught in the middle of his congressman employer’s paying of sins is as intense as one can get. Fifteen minutes in, there’s already a shooting scene. And the rest of the movie was packed with emotional punches, as it dwells with questions about one’s choices in life. Is this the correct choice? What happens when it’s not? Where do we go next? Also, Arnold Reyes’s terrific performance as the driver is a must see.

Kalayaan

01. KALAYAAN

And my top pick for local cinema this year is Adolf Alix’s Kalayaan. On the outside, it’s about a soldier solely stationed in the Kalayaan islands and a run on his daily activities, until two additional soldiers were sent there with him. The first hour of the film solely shows on the day to day routine of Julian. Rarely any dialogue was spoken in it, but the message was effectively sent. Once the credits rolled, you feel that you’ve known enough yet it will also prompt you to ask some more. Definitely my favorite film of the year!

Well that’s it! What are your favorite local movies of the year? In case you are wondering, the reason why there’s no top international picks yet is because I’m still catching up on a lot of the Oscar movies til the next two months. So I guess, you can expect my list by March.

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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.