Muses and hopes for an Oscar-less country

Filipino movies, surprise us in 2023!

With the movie audience inching their way back to the cinemas during the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), we hope to see more people patronize local films.

We hope to see young, maverick filmmakers cross over and successfully transition to the entertainment industry. Take the case of 2022 MMFF Best Director winner Mikhail Red. He started doing short films, was discovered in Birdshot, entered the mainstream studios via Eerie and Block Z, and directed the 2022 winningest MMFF film and box-office hit, Deleter. If not for the pandemic, Mikhail’s Hollywood journey would have prospered.

Regional filmmaker Zig Dulay is an accomplished screenwriter in Ekstra, Liway,and Posas and directed the Vesoul Asian Film Festival Best Film Bagahe. He also won the Balanghai and NETPAC awards for his short film Black Rainbow at the 2022 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

WINNER DELETER Mikhail Red wins best director at at the Metro Manila Film Festival's Gabi ng Parangal

He is the director behind GMA Network’s historical drama-fantasy, Maria Clara at Ibarra based on the novel of José Rizal: Noli Me Tángere.

We have an influx of young filmmakers and if they open their aesthetics to originality and to stories that are more accessible, then there is a big possibility of reaching a wider audience. Mikhail and Zig are the finest filmmakers of their generation.

We have also observed that there is a current trend in making movies—joining film labs with mentors local and foreign scrutinizing concepts and screenplays and developing them by doing co-productions with different countries. We have seen this Asian partnerships in Plan 75 by Chie Hayakawa, Ajoomma by He Shuming, and Autobiography by Makbul Mubarak.

On the local front, Mother Maybe by Sonny Calvento, Ria by Arvin Belarmino, and Violet Flower produced by Wilfredo Manalang are attending film labs in Europe and Asia to gather enough funds to produce their films. The Full Circle Lab Philippines has been a training ground for these young filmmakers since 2019. Let us hope to have them see their films turn into reality soon.

FOR THE LOVE OF KOREAN SOAP OPERAS Singaporean-South Korean drama film directed by He Shuming, Ajooma

The road to an Oscars’ nomination for the Best International Feature Film is still unattainable as this year’s Philippine entry, On the Job: The Missing 8 missed its target when the Academy released the shortlisted entries. These are Argentina’s Argentina, 1985, Austria’s Corsage, Belgium’s Close, Cambodia’s Return To Seoul, Denmark’s Holy Spider, France’s Saint Omer, Germany’s All Quiet On The Western Front, India’s Last Film Show, Ireland’s The Quiet Girl, Mexico’s Bardo, False Chronicle Of A Handful Of Truths, Morocco’s The Blue Caftan, Pakistan’s Joyland, Poland’s EO, South Korea’s Decision To Leave, and Sweden’s Cairo Conspiracy.

Submitting films to Oscar-qualifying festivals is a bit expensive with entry fees being shouldered by the filmmakers. We hope the government steps in.

In our lifetime, we hope to see a Filipino film compete at the Oscars. We have Academy voters with Filipino lineage like documentary filmmakers Ramona Diaz, Ditsi Carolino, and Baby Ruth Villarama and animators Josie Trinidad and Trevor Jimenez, plus auteurs Brillante Mendoza, Lav Diaz, PJ Raval, and, of course, the very talented H.E.R.

FILIPINO SCREEN WRITER AND DIRECTOR Zig Madamba Dulay is known for Bambanti (2015), Black Rainbow (2021) and Bagahe (2017), among his many works

If they can push for representation and introduce our cinematic gems to the 10,000-strong Academy members, then there is hope.

Submitting films to Oscar-qualifying festivals is a bit expensive with entry fees being shouldered by the filmmakers. We hope the government steps in by subsidizing or paying for these entry fees in order for the US market to discover our film heritage.

Exciting big-budgeted Hollywood blockbusters are all lined-up for 2023. We anticipate more sequels and franchise movies. Loyal moviegoers are looking forward to Scream 6, John Wick: Chapter 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Fast X, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning -Part One, Dune: Part Two, and The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.

Also in the can are Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, The Little Mermaid, Barbie, and Wonka.

As for the local films, we have no expectations but just give us all a welcoming surprise in 2023!