Among the latest film submissions for the 86th Oscar Awards Foreign Language Film Category are two films shot in the Philippines with Tagalog as the principal language. These are Transit, directed by Hannah Espia and best film winner in the last Cinemalaya Filmfest which was selected by the Film Academy of the Philippines as our entry and Metro Manila, a film shot by British director Sean Ellis in the country as the entry of the United Kingdom.
In the history of the Oscar Awards, this might be the first time that three entries in the foreign language films feature Tagalog as a language. Iloilo, the entry submitted by Singapore, and directed by Anthony Chen, also features Tagalog inasmuch as a major character in the film is a yaya who hails from the Philippines hired by a Singapore couple.
Transit begins and ends in an airport during a father and son’s transit ﬂight from Tel Aviv to Manila. It tells the story of Moises (Ping Medina), a Filipino single-dad working as a caregiver in Herzliya, Israel, who comes home to his apartment in Tel Aviv to celebrate the fourth birthday of his son Joshua (Marc Justine Alvarez). It was on that day that Moises, together with their Filipino neighbors Janet (Irma Adlawan), and her daughter Yael (Jasmine Curtis), ﬁnd out that the Israeli government is going to deport children of foreign workers. Afraid of the new law, Moises and Janet decide to hide their children from the immigration police by making them stay inside the house.
This is the 23rd submission of the Philippines and the 18th entry submitted by the Film Academy since it was designated to select the country’s entry in 1995.
The cast of Metro Manila is headed by Jake Macapagal, Althea Vega and John Arcilla.
The film tells the story of a family who escape their impoverished life in the ricefields in northern to try their luck in Metro Manila. The husband, Oscar, lands a job for an armored truck company. He befriends his senior officer, Ong who takes him under his wing. Soon, it was apparent that Ong has an evl plan that will implicate Oscar.
The film was shot on location in the Philippines in 2011 with Filipino cast and crew members.
This is the 11th submission of the United Kingdom to this category as most of its films are in English. It already accounts for two nominations: the Welsh film Hedd Wyn by Aleksandr Mitta in 1993 and the Welsh film Solomon and Gaenor by Paul Morrison.
The other submissions in the latest batch—which now total 56 films as of September 26— include:
Bangladesh—Television by Mostofa Sarwar Farooki
The film focuses on Chairman Amin, a local community leader who bans every kind of image in his rural village in Bangladesh. He even goes on to claim that imagination is also sinful since it gives one the license to infiltrate into any prohibited territory. But change is a desperate wind that is difficult to resist by shutting the window. The tension between this traditional window and modern wind grows to such an extent that it starts to leave a ripple effect on the lives of a group of typically colorful, eccentric, and emotional people living in that village. But at the very end of the film, Television, which he hated so much, comes to the rescue and helps Chairman Amin reach a transcendental state where he and his God are unified. This is the country’s 9th submission with no nominations.
Belgium—The Broken Circle Breakdown by Felix van Groeningen
The film tell the story of a love affair between tattoo artist Elise and bluegrass musician Didier. After bonding over their shared enthusiasm for American music and culture, they dive headfirst into a sweeping romance that plays out on and off stage – but when an unexpected tragedy hits their new family, everything they know and love is put to the test. This is Belgium’s 38th submission and it has garnered six nominations including the 2011 Bullhead by Mickael R. Roskam.
Bosnia and Herzegovina—An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker by Danis Tanovic
The film is an unflinching exposé of the prejudices faced by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Roma minority, starring the real-life couple whose harrowing ordeal became a national scandal. It is a story of courage in the face of hardship and injustice. It revisits the alarming saga of Senada Alimanović and partner Nazif Mujić. When Senada suffers a miscarriage, she is denied admittance to the local hospital. So begins a hellish ten-day odyssey pitting the couple against social prejudice and a callous bureaucracy, as Nazif scrounges and Senada’s condition grows ever more critical. The non-professional performers lend the project a compelling authenticity. The knowledge that they are reliving their own nightmarish memories only bolsters the emotional potency of Tanović’s pointed social critique. This is the country’s 13th submission and it won once for No Man’s Land by the same Danis Tanovic in 2001.
Brazil—Neighbouring Sounds by Kleber Mendonça Filho
The film focuses on a middle-class neighborhood in present day Recife which is affected by the arrival of an independent private security firm. The presence of these men brings a sense of safety and a good deal of anxiety to a culture which runs on fear. Meanwhile, Bia, married and mother of two, must find a way to deal with the constant barking and howling of her neighbor’s dog. This is Brazil’s 41st submission and the country has so far four nominations and one shortlisted entry. These were: 1962’ O Pagador de Promissas by Anselmo Duarte; 1996’s O Quatrilho by abio Barreto; 1998’s O que e isso, Companhiero? By Bruno Barreto; and 1999’s Central du Brasil by Walter Salles. Its shortlisted film was 2008’s O Ano em Que Meus Pais Sairon de Furias by Cao Hamburger.
Canada—Gabrielle by Louise Archambault
The film traces the burgeoning independence of a young woman with Williams syndrome, a genetic condition marked by developmental delays and strong social personalities. This is Canada’s 39th submission and won in 2003 for The Barbarian Invasions by Denys Arcand. It already garnered six nominations including the last three awards night for 2010’s Incendies by Denis Villeneuve, 2011’s Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Fajardeau and 2012’s War Witch by Kin Nguyen. It also got nominations for 2007 and 2008.
Colombia—La Playa DC by Juan Andres Arango
The film tells the story of Tomas, an Afro-Colombian teenager who fled the country’s Pacific coast pushed out by the war, and now faces the difficulties of growing up in a city of exclusion and racism. When Jairo, his younger brother and closest friend disappears, Tomas plunges in the streets of the city. His search becomes an initiatory journey that compels him to face his past and to leave aside the influence of his is brothers in order to find his own identity. Through this journey, Tomas reveals a unique perspective of a vibrant and unstable city that, like Tomas, stands on the threshold between what once was and what might be. This is Colombia’s 22nd submission with no nominations.
Czech Republic—Burning Bush by Agnieska Holland
Produced by HBO Europe from a script by Stepan Hulik, the film is the story of a Charles University student Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in the Czech capital’s Wenceslas Square in January 1969, a year after Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks crushed the Prague Spring, bringing to a sudden halt a thawing of the harsher aspects of Communist rule in what was then Czechoslovakia. Also produced as a three part television series, the film follows the story of Palach’s death and the legal fight by his family to clear his name in the face of the oppressive communist state propaganda machine. This is the 20th submission of the country under its name Czech Republic which began in 1994. It already won in 1996 for Kolya by Jan Sverak. Its films were also nominated in 2000 and 2003. As Chechoslovakia, the country also won two Oscars for 1965’s The Shop on Main Street by Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos and 1967’s Closely Watched Trains by Jiri Menzel.
Hongkong—The Grandmaster by Wong Kar-wai
The Grandmaster is a Hong Kong–Chinese martial arts drama film based on the life story of the Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man. It chronicles his life from the 1930s in Foshan, his flight to Hong Kong after the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the events leading to his death. The film deals on his early training at the age of seven to his induction into martial arts by his master Chan Wah-shun, and his marriage to his wife Cheung Wing-sing. But is is hi lifelong inter-action with a lady martial arts teacher, Gong Er, that provides interest in the film. Ip Man moves to HongKong in the hope of starting a career as a martial arts teacher, but ends up facing all sorts of challenges because there were also numerous other martial arts masters. He defeats them soundly and earns a reputation. He meets Gong Er again on Chinese New Year’s Eve 1950 and implies that she should start rebuilding her martial art school. But Gong Er refuses. In 1952, Ip Man meets Gong Er for the last time. Gong confesses to Ip that she has had romantic feelings for him right from the beginning. She dies shortly after. The final scenes offer a visual montage as Ip Man’s school flourishes, including a statement that Ip made Wing Chun popular worldwide and his most famous student was Bruce Lee. Ip Man died in 1972. This is the 32nd submission of Hongkong and it accounts for two nominations—1991’s Raise the Red Lantern by Zhang Yimou and 1993’s Farewell, My Concubine by Chen Kaige.
(Continued next week)
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