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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 4, 2013

Transit Movie Review: An Impressive Directorial Debut About OFW's In Israel

AN IMPRESSIVE debut from 26-year old writer-director Hannah Espia, “Transit” is yet another film about Overseas Filipino Workers and the Filipino diaspora, like “Flor Contemplacion”, “Bagong Bayani”, “Sarah Balabagan”, “Sana Maulit Muli”, “Anak”. Just like “Migrante”, “Transit” also takes us to Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s about the problem of Filipino workers whose kids are in danger of being deported back to the Philipppines, as ordered by a new law in Israel.

Ping Medina is Moises, a single dad with a 4-year old son, Joshua (Marc Justin Alvarez), who he hides from the authorities. He works as caregiver to a very kind but disabled Hebrew and leaves his son under the care of his Auntie Janet (Irma Adlawan), who has her own daughter, Yael (Jasmine Curtis-Smith). The other character in the film is Tina (Mercedes Cabral), who wants to work in Israel as an illegal migrant.

Espia structures the movie in such a way that we see the story being told from the different points of view of the five characters. As such, we see some incidents and situations being shown and re-shown, but from various perspectives. What’s admirable is that Espia makes it all very coherent through good writing and editing.

Through Yael, the film also tries to delve into the issue of Filipino children born in Israel and the question of their cultural/racial identities. Just like other Pinoys born in the U.S. or other countries, do they still consider themselves Filipinos when they do not even speak Tagalog or do not like the staple Pinoy food, adobo? What about Filipinos who turn traitor and squeal on their “kababayans” who are TNT (tago ng tago) just to get the prize money?

What’s amazing in the movie is that the Pinoy actors are made to speak in Hebrew and they are quite impressive. Considering that the movie was shot on location in Israel for only nine days, we must say they did a wonderful job, especially Jasmine and Mark Justin whose lines are all in Hebrew as their characters don’t know how to speak Tagalog at all. Espia even gets to shoot a bar mitzvah and goes to the Wailing Wall.

Her actors all serve her well: Irma, Ping, Jasmine, Mark and even Mercedes whose character, actually, can be deleted as it has no bearing whatsoever with the main conflict in the story. Also a standout as Joshua’s mom is Toni Gonzaga in a surprise guest appearance. Well directed, well acted, with good technical values and a story that has international appeal, we believe “Transit” should be nominated as our next representative in the Oscar best foreign language film category.