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"Transit" Is The Philippines' Entry To The Oscars

"Transit," the film directed by Hannah Espia and produced by Paul Soriano, was chosen as the Philippine entry to the best foreign language category of the 86th Academy Awards.

The film, which was shot in Israel, starred Jasmine Curtis Smith, Ping Medina, Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral and Marc Justine Alvarez. It talked about the struggles of Filipinos in Israel as they are faced with an immigration law that might deport their children back to the Philippines.

This is Hannah's first feature film.

Director Peque Gallaga, member of the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), said that most of the committee members chose "Transit" to be the country's entry to the Oscars. The committee members had to choose between three films: "Transit," "Thy Womb" and the critically acclaimed "OTJ."

Peque admitted it wasn't easy to just choose one film out of the three movies presented to them, but they had to choose the one that will represent Filipinos more aptly. It was a "three-way fight," the director added.

There were basically two major considerations in choosing the year's entry to the Oscars--technical excellence and what the film projected about Filipinos. The committee wanted to choose a movie that will represent the Filipinos well to those who will watch it, Peque said.

"If you watch the movie, it should make one proud to be a Filipino. We wanted a movie that would represent Filipinos, na yun ang produkto natin. Will it be a human interest story? Do we want to show the world that we are an ethnic nation?"

Although "OTJ" was critically acclaimed, the committee decided against it because it will just show "the dark underbelly of crime" and it "raises excellent questions" on who is running the country.

"OTJ," a film starring Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joey Marquez and Joel Torre, also had fast-cutting and multiple camera choices.

Peque said the three films were all excellent, and their styles were "stylistically good for their respective movies." But the committee had to choose "Transit" because the Oscars historically wants films that are melodramas rather than ethnic or action movies.

"Thy Womb," starring superstar Nora Aunor, is about a Badjao midwife.

"Transit" won as best picture in the new breed category of Cinemalaya, as well as best director, best actress, best supporting actress, cinematography, editing and original music score. It was also chosen as the winner for the Netpac Award, the Special Jury Citation and the Audience Choice Award.

Aside from the three films, the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) also included "Supremo," "El Presidente," "Dance of the Steel Bars," "Ekstra," "Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles," "Tuhog" and "Boses" in the list of movies being considered as the country's entry to the Oscars.

"Transit," on the other hand, is a last-minute addition to the shortlist submitted to the committee by the FAP because it was only commercially distributed on September 11. The Oscars requires that the film must be shown within the time frame of October 2012 to September 2013.

Peque was the committee's chairperson. Other members are: actor/director Robert Arevalo, FAP deputy director-general; director Jose Carreon, secretary of the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc.; director William Mayo, president of the Philippine Motion Picture Directors’ Association; Jess Navarro, president of the United Film Editors Guild of the Philippines; director Elwood Perez; actress/director Gina Alajar of the Actors’ Guild; and Manny Morfe, president of the Production Designers Guild of the Philippines.

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