The three nominations the Philippines received in this year’s Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) signify that the country remains a strong contender in the international scene, said Filipino filmmaker Brillante Ma. Mendoza.
Brillante was nominated for best director for his Venice entry “Thy Womb,” whose lead star Nora Aunor is in the running for best actress. Scriptwriter Chris Martinez, meanwhile, is vying for best screenplay for “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.”
Mendoza, who was in Ghent, Belgium, for a screening of “Captive” at the time of the announcement of nominations last Friday, told the Inquirer via SMS: “After having at least nine diverse films at the Busan fest (in South Korea), we got three nods in the region’s top awards. This clearly proves that the country will continue to have a strong presence in world cinema. I’m proud and happy to be the first Filipino director to be recognized by the APSA in that category.”
According to its website, the APSA, which was founded in 2007, seeks to “recognize and promote cinematic excellence and cultural diversity (in) the vast Asia-Pacific region … and is considered as the region’s highest accolade in film.”
This year’s APSA awards ceremony will be held in Brisbane, Australia, on November 23.
Among the best
In 2008, Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala,” which starred Aunor, won the CNN APSA Viewers’ Choice award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time.
“These nominations are a source of pride for our country and countrymen,” Aunor said in Filipino. “All these recognitions of the work and art of Filipinos are important. My nomination comes four years after ‘Himala’ won and it inspires me to work even harder. It warms my heart, especially since the honor comes from our fellow Asians.”
“I feel more than validated,” said screenwriter Martinez, who was earlier nominated for the same script at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. “These nominations prove that our films and artists are among the best in the region.”
Martinez hopes the citation will highlight the contributions of writers in local cinema. “Every great movie starts with great writing. It’s my wish that the industry would give more importance to the written word. It’s time screenwriters stop being invisible.”
Martinez said that the entire “Septic” team—including actress Eugene Domingo and director Marlon Rivera—are “praying hard that we win.”
Not just poverty
Joji Alonso, “Septic” producer, said that the nods “call attention to the country … that there is so much talent here, just waiting to be tapped. It also shows that there are other stories, apart from poverty, that we can share with the world.”
The APSA citations prove “that there is still hope for the local film industry. That, if only we could all go out of the box, we would reach our prime much faster,” said Alonso.
Alonso noted that when she first read the “Septic” script, she instantly knew that it would go places. “It’s both real and surreal.”
Martinez said that “Septic” has been making the rounds of international film fests “for over a year now. It will also be released theatrically in German- and French-speaking countries soon.”
After its Venice, Toronto and Busan screenings, “Thy Womb” will compete in Goa, India, in November and in Dubai in December, Mendoza said. It will have its Austrian premiere at the Vienna fest on October 25 and will be shown in local theaters on November 28.