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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.

Sep 30, 2023



‘ITI MAPUKPUKAW’ is the rotoscope animated film that won best picture in the last Cinemalaya and has now been chosen by the Film Academy of the Philippines or FAP to be our entry in the Oscars best international feature category next year. 

It has Ilocano dialogue and the title means “the missing”.

The story is about a young man, Eric, who works as an animator and has obvious feelings for his co-worker, Carlo. You’d quickly notice that he doesn’t have a mouth.

Later on, he will also lose an eye, an ear, a hand, even his sexual organ.

It turns out this is because he is the victim of a sexual predator, his own uncle, when he was still a child. 

The traumatic experience also causes him to have nightmares that aliens are out to get him. 

In the end, he gets back all his missing parts when he dug up the grave of his uncle, opened the coffin and took back all the significant body parts of his that are hidden inside the casket. 

The Oscars has a separate category for best animated feature, so we don’t how well this film about child abuse will sit with the Oscar voters. 

Before this category was created in 2002, where “Shrek” was the first winner, the only full length animated film that got a best picture nomination was Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in 1991, which is undeniably oustanding.

No local film has ever been nominated in the Oscar best foreign film category since it started in 1956. 

The closest we got to being nominated was in Gil Portes’ “Mga Munting Tinig” in 2002 which got to Number 7. And we recall the late Gil really campaigned hard for that.

We don’t know how our current entry will appeal to the Oscar voters, but we just read online the requirements of the Oscars in this category and it says that a film submitted to them for consideration must “be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater for the profit of the producer and exhibitor.” 

We’re afraid “Iti Mapukpukaw” won’t qualify since it was not shown in a commercial theater for seven consecutive days.

It alternated its screening with all the other Cinemalaya entries in various venues. At kapag nasilip yan, for that alone, the film might be immediately disqualified by the Oscars.

We remember that Cinemalaya winners which were sent to represent us in the Oscars were released on a commercial run to fulfill this criteria, like “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”, “Babae sa Septic Tank” and “Bwakaw”. 

We have nothing against “Iti Mapukpukaw” but why was it even considered when it doesn’t comply with the basic requirement of the Oscars of being shown in a commercial theatre for seven days?

The deadline of submission is this Monday, October 2. Are they really prepared for it?