Could the 2017 Academy Awards be our year?
The Academy Awards is arguably one of the most prestigious international award shows for films, which is exactly why actors, directors, producers and entire casts and crews are lauded when they nab an award. But while the show has generally focused on Hollywood-made films, there is one category that the rest of the world has had it eye on: Best Foreign Film.
Our own humble but promising indie film industry has been trying to get nominated for years now. The Academy, however, has not been as welcoming as we would like. But we have high hopes that Mikhail Red’s Birdshot will be the first to actually make it on the nominee list.
2017 submission: Birdshot
Birdshot tells the story of Diego Mariano (Manuel Acquino), who is a caretaker of the Philippine Eagle. His daughter, 14-year-old Maya (Mary Joy Apostol) is at the brink of adolescence and wishes to explore the world beyond their small shanty. But as Diego teaches her to be self-sufficient in the wild, she mistakenly kills a haribon—which sets the entire film on its wheels.
Amidst the rumble, a rookie cop by the name of Domingo (Arnold Reyes) is eager to investigate the disappearance of a busload of farmers, who were on their way to Manila to file grievances about unfair treatment. He is silenced by his authorities and told to capture the haribon killer instead.
Incredibly insightful, timely and filled to the brim with symbolisms and secondary meaning, Birdshot could be the film that finally gets us our Oscar nod.
2016 submission: Ma’Rosa
Rosa (Jaclyn Jose) and Nestor (Julio Diaz) own a sari-sari store in a poor neighborhood in Manila. With four children to provide for, the couple decides to sell drugs in order to pay the necessary finances. One day, police officers arrest Rosa and Nestor but strike a deal with their children: They cough up P200,000 and their parents are set free. In addition to fending for themselves in the underbelly of Manila, the kids do anything and everything they can to keep their parents' freedom.
2015 submission: Heneral Luna
As the Philippine-American war is just brewing, General Antonio Luna tries to rally his countrymen against any and all colonizers. But as the leaders of the Philippine government become blinded by the promise of the Westerners, Luna must dig deep into the heart of every fighter to fulfill the promise of a Philippine Revolution.
2014 submission: Norte, the End of History
Originally Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan
Joaquin (Archie Alemania) fails miserably in providing for his family and constantly relies on a money lender to make ends meet. When that lender gets murdered, the crime is pinned on Joaquin. This forces his wife Eliza (Angeli Bayani) to fight her depression and make a living for her family. Meanwhile, the real murderer, Fabian (Sid Lucero), roams free. He loses his sanity as he struggles with the disillusionment he has of his country, which is marked with revolution after revolution and a loose interpretation of justice.
2013 submission: Transit
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In Israel, Moises (Ping Medina) works as a caregiver in order to provide for his son, Joshua (Marc Justine Alvarez). When he goes home to celebrate Joshua’s 4th birthday, Moises and his neighbor Janet (Irma Adlawan) find out that the Israeli government is going to deport all children of foreign workers. As Janet has a daughter of her own, Yael (Jasmine Curtis), she and Moises decide to keep their children indoors. But with a boy that doesn’t understand what race is and a young woman fighting for her identity, things are not so easy.
Year after year, the Philippine film industry has just gotten better and better. In terms of storytelling, acting, originality and symbolism—we have definitely witnessed how Pinoy movies have matured. And we’re glad to see Birdshot taking its chance at for a nomination at the 2017 Academy Awards.
We definitely have our fingers crossed!