Lav Diaz says quest for Oscar a long shot
“Suntok sa buwan (a long shot).”
This is how Filipino director Lav Diaz described the chances of his film “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” to score a nomination for best foreign language film at the 2015 Oscar Awards.
“We’re banking on the quality of the work, but we still need to campaign for votes. We’re doing everything we can,” Diaz said shortly after the opening of the Indie Bravo!-Fully Booked Film Festival at the Bonifacio Global City on Friday. “Norte” was the opening feature. (The festival runs until Dec. 12.)
“Although we’ve received financial support from the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and the executive producers,” he said, “we know we shouldn’t expect much.”
The four-hour film premiered at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival. That same year, it bagged the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award and best picture trophy at the International Cinephile Society (online critics group) Awards. It also won best film at the Pancevo (Serbia) International Film Festival.
Producer Moira Lang (formerly known as Raymond Lee) explained the nomination and voting process: “Some 83 films from all over the world will be short-listed to nine. They will be chosen by a fixed number of Academy voters, and not the whole body. The short list will be further trimmed to five nominees. That’s the only time the votes will be cast to arrive at that one winning film.”
Lang said Cinema Guild, the film’s distributor in the United States, recommended a promotions firm to help the movie. “Norte” has also signed up with distributors in France, United Kingdom and Germany.
“They got to schedule the screening for Academy voters two weeks ago. About 90 members were present. We were told that’s a big group,” Lang told the Inquirer. “Each member will rate the film. If it gets a high score, it can get nominated.”
She said a screening for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was organized recently, too. “We were told not to expect a lot of people to turn up for the screening of a four-hour film, but some of our kababayan there are helping out. If it gets nominated, they will probably ask for Lav to go there in January.”
Official nominees will be announced in January 2015; the awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 22.
“We really hope this will happen,” said Diaz. “It’s good for the country; good for the film community.”
“Norte” is still being shown in other American states, Diaz reported. Lang added: “We told the promoters to announce that it’s a four-hour film and that it’s the longest film among the entries. That’s one of the things that will set it apart and, hopefully, generate curiosity.”
Beyond the Oscars, Lang said, they hope for “Norte” to have more local screenings. “We’d like to hold screenings outside Metro Manila—in Baguio, Bacolod, Bicol, Ilocos and Palawan.”
“Filipinos have to watch Filipino films; and then they will know that it’s really growing,” Diaz pointed out. “There is awareness now that cinema in the Philippines is dynamic, at par with all others elsewhere in the world.”
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