Philippines’ entry to Oscars “Bwakaw” sparks international attention

Jun Lana’s “Bwakaw” has made international headlines following the Film Academy of the Philippines’ announcement that the film about an elderly gay man in his twilight years has been selected as the country’s entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 2013 Academy Awards.

In the online site of world-leading news magazine TIME, “Bwakaw” was listed alongside the films of Ang Lee, Robert Zemeckis and Brian de Palma in Time’s “10 Films to Watch” at the New York Film Festival 2012— the only Asian film to make the prestigious list.

Various international news outfits including the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Washington Post, CBS News, The Republic, San Francisco Chronicle, Canada’s Brandon Sun and Singapore’s Straits Times have taken notice of the official selection of the Philippines to the Oscars, especially since its country of origin remains to be Asia’s only Christian nation where homosexuality does not fit in the norm.

Other well-know film reviewers such as Variety.com. Slant Magazine, AwardsCircuit.com and gay-themed news sites Gay Star News and Queerty were quick to commend the merits of the movie. Earlier on Sunday, The Hollywood Reporter posted a favorable review of “Bwakaw” which it called “a captivating charmer from the Philippines.”

An official selection at the 8th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival’s Directors’ Showcase category where it clinched three recognitions (Audience Choice Award, NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Awards and Eddie Garcia as Best Actor), “Bwakaw” has also taken international theatrical screening at Toronto International Film Festival. Its presence in festival circuits continues as the Eddie Garcia-starrer heads to Hawaii and New York for the New York Film Festival this October.

In his interview with the WSJ, director Jun Lana shared that the movie tries to address “everyone’s fear about growing old and missed chances.” In the same interview, Lana revealed that the movie was inspired by his real-life teacher and mentor Rene Villanueva, a playwright who died in 2007 and who also came out of the closet late in life. “He was a colorful character, harsh and generous at the same time,” he said. “My greatest fear was forgetting him, and I wanted to do a project to honor him.”

The movie chronicles the story of Rene (Eddie Garcia), an elderly gay man who comes out late in life; leading a solitary life with his dog “Bwakaw.”

After the New York Film Festival, it is scheduled to be screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival and at the Tokyo International Film Festival.