The Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) has chosen Transit as the Philippine entry to the Best Foreign Language category of the 86th Academy Awards.
Transit stars Jasmine Curtis Smith, Ping Medina, Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, and child actor Marc Justine Alvarez.
This is the first feature film of Hannah Espia.
The film depicts the struggles of a Filipino family in Israel affected by a law that threatens to deport children of migrant workers.
In an exclusive interview with director Peque Gallaga, he told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that most of the committee members chose Transit to be the country’s entry to the Oscars.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Direk Peque, who heads the special committee of the FAP that chose Transit over other Filipino movies.
“We had two sessions for two days. It was great to choose from really great movies.”
According to the official website of the Film Academy of the Philippines, Transit “figured in a three-way fight” with OTJ (On the Job) of Erik Matti and Thy Womb of Brillante Mendoza.
Direk Peque explained that they had two major considerations in choosing this year’s entry to the Oscars: the film's technical excellence and what the film projected about Filipinos.
“Hollywood is a huge market. The whole world watches the Oscars, and we wanted to choose a movie na maganda.
“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.
“One of our top considerations was technical excellence.
“Our second biggest consideration: How do we want to projéct ourselves as Filipinos? How do we want to projéct ourselves to the countries who are watching us?
“Will it be a human interest story? Do we want to show the world that we are an ethnic nation?
“In the case of OTJ, do we want to show the dark underbelly of crime? It raises excellent questions on who is really running our country.”
Elaborating further on why they chose Transit over OTJ (On The Job) and Thy Womb, Direk Peque explained:
“There were three really, really excellent films: OTJ, Thy Womb, and Transit. Iba-iba ang styles nila.
"OTJ had fast cutting and multiple camera choices. Their styles were stylistically good for their respective movies.”
OTJ (On the Job) is a crime thriller starring Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joey Marquez, and Joel Torre.
Meanwhile, Thy Womb is a drama about a Badjao midwife portrayed by Nora Aunor.
Direk Peque also pointed out that they chose the family drama Transit since it had a better chance of winning.
“In the history of the Oscars, they don’t usually give it to ethnic movies or action movies. In the Oscars, they prefer melodramas.”
Last August 16, the FAP released the initial list of movies being considered for the country's official entry to the Best Foreign Language category of the Oscars in 2014.
These included Supremo; El Presidente; Thy Womb; Dance of the Steel Bars; Ekstra; Tiktik: the Aswang Chronicles; Tuhog; Boses; and OTJ.
According to the official website of FAP, Transit was a last-minute entry in the committee’s shortlist of film candidates, since its commercial exhibition only started on September 11.
This makes the movie eligible. The period required by Oscar regulations for a movie to compete for 2013 is October 2012 to September 2013.
Direk Peque served as the chairperson of the special FAP committee that had the following members: 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.
Shot in Israel, Transit won the Best Picture award in the New Breed category of Cinemalaya.
It also garnered awards for best direction (Hannah Espia), actress (Irma Adlawan), supporting actress (Jasmine Curtis Smith), cinematography (Ber Cruz & Lyle Nemenzo Sacris), editing (Benjamin Tolentino & Hannah Espia), and original music score (Mon Espia).
It also bagged the Netpac Award, the Special Jury Citation (for the ensemble acting of the cast) and the Audience Choice Award.