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18 September 2013

An Oscar for Filipino Overseas Workers and our Friends from Singapore

Two films about the lives of Filipino overseas workers are vying for nomination for the 2014 Oscar Best Foreign Language Film Category.  Anthony Chen’s “Ilo Ilo” is Singapore’s official entry. The movie is about a Filipino nanny and the Singaporean family for whom she works.  “Ilo Ilo” received the Caméra d'Or ("Golden Camera") award in this year’s Cannes Film Festival.  Caméra d'Or is the Cannes’ award for best first feature film. 

The Finest in Southeast Asian Cinema. Top: Transit / Bottom: Ilo Ilo
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Hannah Espia’s “Transit” is the Philippines’ entry to the Oscars. “Transit” swept the recently concluded Cinemalaya Film Festival bagging Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Irma Adlawan), Best Supporting Actress (Jasmine Curtis-Smith). The film’s cast also received a special award. The film was not even included in the initial shortlisted films released by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) but the film was able to have a limited 7-consecutive day run in commercial theaters before the October 1, 2013 deadline of the American Academy Awards, thus, making “Transit” eligible for selection.

Interestingly, “Transit” and “Ilo Ilo” are Espia’s and Chen’s first feature films respectively, proving that the new hope of Asian cinema rest in the hands of a new breed of directors.

It will be so amazing if both films actually reach the top five slots and be officially nominated. Such nominations will open up a worldwide discussion on the plight of our Filipino compatriots abroad.  The road to the Oscars is long. We just had our first step, and even more wonderful, Singapore is with us. This is quite a different story compared to decades ago when “The Flor Contemplacion Story” negatively affected the relations of Filipinos and Singaporeans. This time, we are on the same side. 

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