The race for a shot at the Oscars begins

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GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

We are halfway done with the year, and again, the shortlist of local movies from which a possible Oscars’ contender for Best Foreign Language Film will be screened by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP).

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I know some members of the selection committee, but I’m not in the position to reveal their names, even if I feel that their identity need not be kept in utmost secrecy. After all the FAP is under the Office of the President and its members are duly accountable to the public.

Despite the many accolades Filipino films have received throughout the years, an Oscars trophy for a locally made film has been ever elusive. So far on record, Director Gil Portes has sent the most number of entries to the Oscars than any other Filipino director. He is raring to have his film Hermano Puli make it to the short list since it still needs to fulfill a stringent requirement of theatrical exhibition for at least a week. This particular requirement by the way has put most every “Oscars worthy” indie film at a disadvantage, especially if it fails to pull in audiences and gets pulled out from the theaters after a day or two.

Currently, the short list has Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father and Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa.

A few other indie films may also pull off a surprise at the last minute, among them Ralston Jover’s Ha­mog, which was highly acclaimed in the A-listed Moscow International and New York Film Festivals, earning for its young star Therese Malvar, best actress trophies.

Aljur Abrenica in a scene from Gil Portes’ ‘Hermano Puli’

Aljur Abrenica in a scene from Gil Portes’ ‘Hermano Puli’

Ricky Lee’s screenplay for Iadya Mo Kami is another heavy weight to contend, as well as my good friend and TV director-cum-painter Louie Ignacio’s foray into indie filmmaking, billed Laut. The latter is now doing the rounds of film fests abroad.

Now which of these movies will make it to the Oscars? It is at the moment anybody’s ball game, and we hope that the selection committee meticulously decides on the most Oscar-worthy Filipino film to send to Hollywood.

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