The road to the Oscars

A total of 71 films have been named contenders to next year’s Foreign Language Oscars andJun Lana’s comedy-drama Bwakaw is one of the full length features aiming to be part of the shortlist and eventually bag the prestigious Academy Awards of Merit trophy.

The film, which narrates a story of an elderly gay man who leads a solitary life with a mongrel he calls Bwakaw, is up against period dramas from America, high-profile films from Europe and some of the multi-awarded features from Asia—films that are considered best and strongest in their respective territory.

Since the country, through the Film Academy of the Philippines, has started sending entries to the annual Foreign Film section of the Oscars, local cinephiles have been crossing their fingers hoping (and praying hard) that our entry would clinch one of five coveted slots to compete for the award. Yet, this process of hoping and praying just keeps on repeating every year because it appears that the local committee has been sending ugly ducklings in this competition joined by swans.

Truth is, we can only do so much because no matter how we question the credential (and artistic taste) of the people involved in choosing the country’s entry, these people still have the final say. Let us just put it this context, it’s either they don’t have enough numbers of brilliant and compelling films to choose from or FAP members still have not learned what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences look for in a foreign language film. And we can also surmise that Oscars is marred by politics and controversies.

This time though, the Philippine entry is already earning positive reviews from foreign critics. It was singled out by Time Magazine as one of the key must-sees at the recently concluded New York Film Festival. It’s also named by a well-established film site, which predicts the winners in the Oscars, as one of the early favorites to win the race in foreign language film section.  Furthermore, various international news outfits including the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Washington Post, CBS News and Singapore’s Straits Times have taken notice ofBwakaw and its unconventional appeal to audience of world cinema. But then again, none of these rave reviews will merit in the actual selection process of the top 5 films. If reviews will be the basis, majority of the 70 other titles can all be considered top contenders because they also received highly favorable responses from observers.

We know for a fact that the Philippine journey to the prestigious annual film event is rather winding and rough not to mention, unpredictable. Moving forward, let us hope that filmmakers and movie producers will start creating important and creative films that best describe us as a nation or come up with universally appealing films, which doesn’t necessarily have to be all about sexuality and poverty.

Will Bwakaw change the course of the winds this time? Will this film that features the colorful yet harsh character played by Eddie Garcia be our first entry to win the coveted Oscar plum? Like what everybody says, only time will tell.

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