The Philippines’ Long Road to an Oscar

The Philippines’ Long Road To An Oscar

Contributing Authors

The Philippines has been submitting entries to the Oscars since 1956, when the category of "Best Foreign-Language Film" was first introduced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  "Anak Dalita," directed by Lamberto V. Avellana, was the Philippines' first entry. 

The country has yet to secure a nomination. 

For the 89th Academy Awards, the Philippines has chosen to submit "Ma'Rosa," the same film by Brillante Mendoza that gained critical acclaim and won the "Best Actress" award for Jaclyn Jose in this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Brillante Mendoza and Jaclyn Jose embrace after her winning the best actress award for her role in

Jaclyn Jose in "Ma'Rosa"

Phase 3:

On the weekend before Oscar nominations are announced, a committee of 30 high-profile Academy members screens all nine shortlisted films. The committee must see all nine films over a single weekend at special Academy screenings set up in Los Angeles, New York or London.

The five films that get the most votes become the five Nominated Foreign-Language films.

Now, let's focus on the chances of "Ma'Rosa" to be included in the five nominated films for the Oscar.

We think that having been screened at Cannes is a plus factor, especially because Jaclyn Jose won the Best Actress Award.  It's all about the "buzz."

Oscar voters are certainly aware of, and follow, international film festivals -- Cannes being one of the prestigious ones, if not the most prestigious.  The fact that Jaclyn Jose won that festival’s Best Actress award over well-known actresses like Kristen Stewart, Ruth Negga and Isabelle Huppert certainly peaks the interest of the Oscar voters.

Mendoza himself has made a name at Cannes and other international film festivals.  He won the Best Director award for his film, "Kinatay" at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival.  His other works have been screened at the Dubai International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Venice International Film Festival.

That means that voters in the Phase 1 committee are more likely to pick “Ma’Rosa” as one of the films they want to see.  And even if those voters don’t end up choosing it as one of their top six, the prestige of a Cannes film and a director of Mendoza’s caliber might translate into precisely the type of “critical acclaim” that the Executive Committee is charged with looking for when they add their additional three films to the mix. is a premiere entertainment and awards site that tracks and predicts Oscar contenders. The site has identified the five films that it thinks will be the five nominees for Best Foreign-Language film this year:

  • “The Salesman” – IRAN
  • “Toni Erdmann” – GERMANY
  • “Neruda” – CHILE
  • “From Afar” – VENEZUELA
  • “Elle” – FRANCE

However, the site had put "Ma'Rosa" in the top ten film contenders, even before it was named the Philippines' official entry.

With a little publicity push among Oscar voters, "Ma'Rosa" can create even more buzz and increase its chances of being seriously considered for a nomination.

As to whether Jaclyn Jose is eligible for a Best Actress Oscar, Academy rules specifically state that in order for a film to be eligible for all award categories (Best Actress included), it has to be shown in theaters in Los Angeles for at least one week this year -- anytime before December 31. That is a decision the producers of "Ma'Rosa" will have to make, and soon.

It's a long path for the Philippines towards an Oscar nomination.  But with its credentials from Cannes, it's not necessarily a long shot for "Ma'Rosa" to become the country's first Oscar nominee. Perhaps a winner?

After all, if we consider the predictions of, "Ma'Rosa" is probably already among the nine films that will be screened by Oscar voters prior to narrowing the list down to the final five.

SYNOPSIS: Ma' Rosa is a mother who owns a small convenience store in a poor neighborhood of Manila where she is liked by everybody. To make ends meet, Rosa and her husband, Nestor, resell small amounts of narcotics on the side. One day, they get arrested. Rosa and her children are ready to do anything to buy her freedom back from the corrupt police.

Published on : 14/03/2018 by Puerto Parrot

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