Jul 07
REFLECTIONS:THE HARVEST IS LEAN BUT WE NEED AN ENTRY by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jul 7, 2006

Wednesday last week (June 28), the academy drew up a six-man committee it has tasked to select the Philippine entry to next year’s Oscar’s best foreign language film category.

The committee will be headed by National Artist for Film Director Eddie Romero, with three other film directors (Robert Arevalo, William Mayo and this writer), actor-scriptwriter Johnny Delgado and scriptwriter Pablo S. Gomez, as members.

The committee will consider local films exhibited from October 2005 to September 2006.

The committee has not yet scheduled its first ever meeting. A little spadework may be opportune at this time, so it seemed.

This writer scrounged through the files of the FAP secretariat and located a piece of paper that may help us in our expected deliberations. It carries the entire Rule Thirteen of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscar awards rules and regulations.

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 2005 and September 2006, 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, we logged on to an AMPAS website and gleaned 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.

–In 1956, the category became a competitive award.

–Italy won the most best foreign language film awards with 10.

–France garnered the most nominations with 30.

The special awards from 1947 to 1955 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.

With that crash course over, we decided to shift our focus to the local films which were selected as the Philippine official entry to the best foreign language film category of the Oscar awards.

We were able to dredge info about this from the secretariat’s file but the list of films extended from 1996 to 2004. We failed to submit an entry last year after official communications from the AMPAS intended for the academy got lost in transit somewhere.

The official letter got through this time around and we now have the six-man committee to do this task of gleaning the best possible entry from a lean harvest of local films that stared showing October last year. But we need to come up with en entry.

To refresh our memories, 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.

And now for the task at hand—choosing our entry this year.

The committee will be choosing one from at least 32 local films already shown up to June this year. But films which will be shown up to September will still be qualified.

At this point, a short list of possible aspirants can be drawn up. If we will base our deliberations on the ratings that the films got from the Cinema Evaluation Board, we will be expected to preview at least sixteen films which garnered an A or B rating. Two of these rated films are still to be shown commercially.

The films which were rated favorably included (listed chronologically on date of exhibition): Ilusyon (digital); Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros; the 2005 MMFFP 2005 films Ako Legal Wife, Mulawin, Exodus, and Blue Moon;

Don’t Give Up on Us; I’ll Always Love You; Close to You; Moments of Love; Pamahiin; All About Love; Kapag Tumibok ang Puso…Not Once But Twice; Pacquiao the Movie; I Wanna Be Happy; and Mainit na Tubig (digital). The last two are yet to be shown.

It is interesting to note that of the 16 films listed, a total of nine films have English titles, two Taglish, and one Spanish. But don’t get me wrong that English-titled local films have the inside track in plucking down the much-coveted selection as RP’s entry to the foreign language film category of the Oscars.

Does this mean we are really running out of good Tagalog titles? Huwag naman po sana.