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September 26, 2014

Norte is Philippine bet to Oscars


The Film Academy of the Philippines has chosen Lav Diaz's opus Norte: End of History to represent the country in the bid for a nomination for best foreign-language film at the Oscars next year.

Ahead of the October 1 submission deadline for countries to name their official submission, 2014's field of international Oscar hopefuls is starting to come into focus. Norte faces tough competition. Belgium, for instance, has fielded the Dardenne brothers' neorealist work, Two Day, One Night, while Canada has chosen Xavier Dolan's Mommy which won a Jury Prize in Cannes this year. Turkey has high hopes for Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep which beat Mommy in Cannes and took home the coveted Palme d'Or.

After premiering in Cannes last year, Norte enjoyed positive critical reception at nearly all the world’s major festivals including Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Toronto, New York, Busan, Tokyo, Rotterdam and Hong Kong. Whether this is enough to get a slot in the Oscars foreign language film category remains to be seen.


September 19, 2014

The birth of tradition


This is a behind the scene photo of the first scene to be shot in The Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan's Children in Matanao, Davao del Sur, in 2009.  We shot the film without a script.  We went on location with a big idea, and would just leave it to geography and atmosphere to bring out the story.  This scene, of women talking about their desire to seek greener pasture as overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait, was decided because the artesian well, locally known as poso, amidst the oversized biga leaves looked 'nice' for a rural conversation. 

But what became important about this day is that it set the tradition for my succeeding films, that is,  lunch on the first day of all my film shoots must have on the menu sinful ginataang monggo (mungbean stew in coconut) and grilled tilapia and pirit (baby tuna).  This was suggested by my assistant director Yam Palma which myself and production manager Elreen Supetran Bendisula agreed to. Dutch scientist and writer Louise Fresco wrote, "Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It's not about nutrients and calories. It's about sharing. It's about honesty. It's about identity."

During the shoot of Limbunan, the tradition of having grilled or deep fried catfish on the first supper, and crabs on either lunch of the second or third day were added, not to mention overflowing Coca Cola round the clock because that's the preferred 'energy drink' of my cinematographer Coicoi Nacario and tech supervisor John J. Barredo. Red Horse beer being part of tradition is totally predictable. Peanuts on the other hand are not allowed. And even before the shoot commences, I would ask Elreen, a Catholic, to offer flowers and eggs in the Carmelite Church and pray for good weather and no rain.