Any day now, the seven-man committee of the Film Academy of the Philippines will buckle down to work to select the Philippine entry to next year’s Oscar’s best foreign language film category.
The committee is headed by National Artist for Film Director Eddie Romero, with five other film directors (Robert Arevalo, William Mayo, Elwood Perez, new member Gina Alajar and this writer), editor Jess Navarro and production designer Manny Morfe as members.
The committee will consider local films exhibited from October 2010 to September 2011.
Available data on the films shown in said period, including those which were rated A or B by the Cinema Evaluation Board of the Film Deve-lopment Council of the Philippines, only highlight the fact that the committee will literally scrounge for a decent entry because, sad to say, the harvest has been lean to glean an entry with a fighting chance for nomination for the best foreign language film category of the Oscar Awards next year.
Let us first refer to Rule Thirteen of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rules and regulations that may help us in our expected deliberations.
Rule 13 takes care of the special rules for the best foreign language film award. It has three main components—definition, eligibility and submission.
According to Rule 13, a foreign language film is defined, for Academy Award purposes, as “a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States of America with a predominantly non-English dialogue track.”
To be eligible for nomination (and luckily, selection as the best), the film must be first released in the country of origin between October 2010 and September 2011, and first publicly exhibited by means of 35mm or 70mm film for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor, advertised and exploited during its eligibility run in a manner considered normal and customary to the industry.
Rule 13, however, stresses that the film need not have been released in the U.S. It is also emphatic that accurate English subtitles are required. An item in the eligibility component includes this requirement: the submitting country must certify that creative talent of that country exercised artistic control of the film.
The portion on submission stipulates that only one picture will be accepted from each country.
After going thru Rule 13, let us consider these other trivia about the best foreign language film of the Oscar Awards:
–The award began in 1947 when the Academy gave a special award to Shoe Shine from Italy.
–From 1948 to 1955, the Academy only gave a special award to the best foreign language film. The special award winners were given to what are now film classics. These films included Shoe Shine, Monsieur Vincent, The Bicycle Thief, The Walls of Malapaga, Rashomon, Forbidden Games, Gate of Hell and Samurai: The Legend of Musashi.
–In 1956, the category became a competitive award.
The following films were the Philippines’ official entries from 1996 to 2004: Inagaw Mo ang Lahat sa Akin (1996), produced by Reyna Films and directed by Carlitos Siguion-Reyna; Milagros (1997) produced by Merdeka Films and directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya; Sa Pusod ng Dagat (1998) produced by GMA Films and directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya;
Saranggola (1999) produced by GMA Films and directed by Gil M. Portes; Anak (2000) produced by Star Cinema and directed by Rory Quintos; Gatas…Sa Dibdib ng Kaaway (2001) produced by Crown Seven and directed by Gil M. Portes; Mga Munting Tinig (2002) produced by Teamwork Films and directed by Gil. M. Portes; Dekada ’70 (2003) produced by Star Cinema and directed by Chito Roño; and Crying Ladies (2004) produced by Unitel Films and directed by Mark Meily.
Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2006) produced by U.F.O. Films and directed by Aureus Solito; Donsol (2007) produced by Bicycle Productions and directed by Adolf Alix; Ploning (2008) produced by Panoramanila and directed by Dante Nico Garcia; Ded na si Lolo (2009) produced by APT Entertainment and directed by Soxie Topacio; and Noy (2010) produced by Cinemedia Film Productions and directed by Dondon Santos.
And now for the task at hand—choosing our entry this year.
The committee will be choosing one from at least 39 local films already shown up to August 15 this year. But films which will be shown up to September will still be qualified.
But if we will base our deliberations on the ratings that the films got from the Cinema Evaluation Board, we will be trimming the short list to at least 18 films which garnered an A or B rating. Four other rated films must still be shown commercially to qualify.
Seven films were rated A but only four were shown commercially— RPG Metanoia and Rosario which were both Metro Manila Filmfest entries in December, Senior Year which was shown in March and Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (the best film of 2011 Cinemalaya’s New Breed category) which is still showing at present. Three other films also rated A —Ikaw ang Pagibig, Sigwa and Paglipad ng Anghel—were not shown commercially and will not qualify.
We can add two other Cinemalaya entries from the New Breed category— Ligo na U, Lapit na Me and Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa which are booked for September.
Fifteen films were rated B but one was not shown in commercial theaters.
It is interesting to note that of the 15 films , a total of 12 films have English titles. These include White House, Super Inday & the Magic Bibe, Father Jejemon, My Valentine Girls, Who’s That Girl?, Catch Me…I’m in Love, TUM: My Pledge of Love, Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak, In the Name of Love, Forever and a Day, Temptation island, and Deadline (The Reign of Impunity).
If might really turn out to be slim pickings from a lean harvest, alas.
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