Brillante Mendoza's Cannes Film Festival competition entry, Ma'Rosa, is now officially the Philippine submission to the 2017 Academy Awards. The film is seemingly reflective of the country's current drug war situation that saw the rise of summary killings only after three months the new president is elected.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian reviewed Ma'Rosa as "made with control and clarity, a narrative purpose which is held on to...a cold, hard look at what being poor actually means, and how few options there are for escape."
Ben Croll writing for The Wrap said, "Ma’ Rosa” certainly follows all the tenets of the neorealist movement. It is shot with portable, inexpensive equipment on location in Manila’s poorest neighborhoods. It follows the working poor into intractable knot of public corruption meant to provoke outrage and indict all levels of society."
The Hollywood Reporter’s Boyd van Hoeij wrote, “Mendoza again manages to turn his locations into a character in its own right. The decision to shoot in August, which is the typhoon season, adds a highly dramatic touch to the exterior scenes and especially the rain-lashed police roundup."
Jaclyn Jose won the Palme d'Or for Best Actress for her searing performance as the drug-dealing matriarch Rosa Reyes. Months before the official announcement, Awards Circuit, a leading Oscar prognosticator had already listed Ma'Rosa as a top tier contender.
The Film Academy of the Philippines selected Ma'Rosa among other shortlisted films, including Erik Matti's Honor Thy Father, Derick Cabrido's Nora Aunor starrer "Tuos, Eduardo Roy's "Pamilya Ordinaryo," Lav Diaz' "Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis," Joel Lamangan's "Felix Manalo," Jun Lana's "Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan," Gil Portes' "Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli," and the belatedly included Lav Diaz' Venice Golden Lion winning film "Ang Babaeng Humayo."
The FAP Selecting Committe is headed by Director Edgardo ‘Boy’ Vinarao as chairman with Director Jose N. Carreon, Director Mike Sandejas, actor/scriptwriter Ed Rocha, cinematographer Lee Meily, actor Michael de Mesa and actress Cherry Gil as members.
The Philippines has never been nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film since it started submitting official entries in the 1950s. The last Asian film to win the category for films not in the English language is Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation.”
The 89th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, on February 26, 2017.