Ploning, the Philippine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 81st Annual Academy Awards, will be screened on November 26 (Wednesday). The venue will be at University of the Philippines Film Institute, with screenings scheduled at 5 pm and 7:30 pm.
Ploning is facing tough competition since 67 countries have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 2009 Academy Awards. This includes France's Entre les murs (The Class), which won the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes International Film Festival.
As first-time producers, Dante, Guia Gonzales, Jourdan Sebastian, and Benjamin Lingan are faced with the task of reaching out to the 5,000-plus members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. These members, who are located mainly in Los Angeles and New York, have the authority to vote for Ploning and allow it to enter the Top 9 entries. Another round of voting will occur, and the chosen Top 5 films will compete during the Oscars night scheduled on February 22, 2009.
In an exclusive interview with PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal), Guia recounted her experiences during her recent Los Angeles trip with Ploning director Dante Nico Garcia.
"What's at stake is Filipino pride. Our mode is like going to the Olympics," describes Guia. "We have a beautiful film but in Hollywood, ang labanan ay marketing and publicity."
As for Judy Ann she said in a previous interview that she and the other producers of Ploning are busy raising funds for her film.
"Nagku-concentrate ako sa filmfest, ‘yon nga lang, sa Oscars!" Juday told PEP contributor Nora Calderon. "Inspired kami [she and best friend director Dante Garcia] na magtrabaho ngayon para makalikom kami ng five million pesos, na kailangan namin sa pagla-lobby for Ploning sa Oscars sa February 2009."
PR FIRM. In line with their goal to reach the Oscars, Panoramanila has hired the services of a publicist, namely Murray Weismann and Associates. The veteran group handled publicity for the movie There Will be Blood, a Hollywood film that is loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! (1927). The film earned the Best Actor award for Daniel Day-Lewis and Best Cinematography for Robert Elswit in last year's Oscars.
According to Mr. Weismann, Ploning needs "careful repackaging" because what works in the Philippines will not necessarily work in the U.S.
The movie Ploning is about a provincial lass (played by Judy Ann) who is patiently waiting for her lover to return from Manila. Aside from being chosen as the Philippine entry for the Oscars, Ploning has also been chosen to take part in the International Film Festival of India by the end of November. It will also take part in the Asia Pacific Festival of First Films in Singapore and the Hong Kong Asian Independent Film Festival.
The producers will also attend the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which presents a majority of the films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category of the Academy Awards.
By December 2008, the Academy will announce the Top 9 shortlisted films, and on January 22, 2009, they will announce the Top 5 entries that will compete in the Oscars.
Benjamin Lingan, the co-author of Ploning's screenplay along with Direk Dante, believes in the potential of the movie to present the Philippines in a different light.
"We want to promote a positive Philippines and we believe that we have the product to do so," BJ tells PEP. "We have been given the opportunity to actually achieve that vision. May chance kami na mapakita sa buong mundo na may ibang klaseng Pilipinas and we don't want to miss that kind of opportunity. Sana mapalitan namin ang mindset ng mundo about the Philippines."
KINDNESS OF KABABAYANS. The road to the Oscars is filled with many obstacles, but the producers get by with a little help from their friends. During her two-week stay in Los Angeles, Guia narrated how she learned to navigate around the area without a companion, and she quipped: "The best way to travel is to get lost."
The subsequent screenings of Ploning will be hosted by U.S.-based Pinoys who want to raise awareness about the film. Last November 7, they showed the period film at the American Film Institute and another took place at Kodak USA on November 14.
Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon has pledged to organize a press conference on November 12 to inform members of the press and key Filipino leaders about the film.
The DVD of Ploning will be released in the Philippines this November by GMA Films. It will contain behind-the-scenes footage and Tagalog subtitles.
As a co-producer of the film, lead actress Judy Ann will be conducting a fundraising event on November 30 to raise money for the Oscar bid of her movie. She will go to the United States this December to personally handle the promotion and publicity of Ploning.
Juday says: "Magkakaroon po kami ng auction sa Friday [November 28] sa Plaza Ibarra in Timog, Quezon City. Ang second auction ay sa Wednesday [December 3], sa Rockwell Tent in Makati City. Aalis po ako ng December 8 and I will stay in Los Angeles up to December 15 para tumulong kay Direk Ga sa kampanya para sa Ploning."
For those who want to attend the Ploning screening on November 26, you may send an email to email@example.com or contact 09178619022.
Tickets are priced at P100 (non-UP students) and P80 (UP students) for both screenings.