The submitted motion pictures must be first released theatrically in their respective countries between 1 October 2015 and 30 September 2016. The deadline for submissions is 3 October 2016.
During the latest years and after 2008, when Yojiro Takita’s “Departures” won the award, there has not been much success for SE Asian films. The only film from the region that made the final five nominations was the Cambodian “The Missing Picture”, by Rithy Path. It did not won though, and its primary language was French.
However, it is always interesting to find out which film each country considers its most worthy to win an Oscar, so here is the list of this year’s SE Asian nominations.
S. Korea chooses Warner Bros.
The Korean Film Council selected Age of Shadows. You can read all about it here.
Japan sends a Yojiro Takita’s film, once more.
The Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan submitted Living with My Mother by Yojiro Takita. It is the fifth time one of his films represents Japan, starting with 1986 and “Final Take.” Only “The Twilight Samurai” made the shortlist, in 2003.
Set in post-World War II Japan, midwife Nobuko is resolved to move on as she stands at the grave of her son Koji who died, alongside thousands of others, when the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on the civilians in the southern city of Nagasaki. However, upon returning home she is visited by an apparition, which continues to return in order to commiserate and reminisce with the woman about the past, family, affection and war.
Hong Kong sends the film with the most awards.
Hong Kong’s Motion Picture Industry Association (MPIA) has chosen Philip Yung’s Port Of Call. The film has won sixteen awards from S. Korean and Asian festivals.
The movie is based on a real murder case where a dismembered corpse of a murdered 16-year-old female prostitute was found in Hong Kong in 2008.
Taiwan focuses on children and music.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture selected Hang In There Kids! (aka “Lokah Laqi!”). The film, directed by Laha Mebow, is the story of a group of indigenous rural children who discover that their teacher has a fantastic singing voice. They decide to travel to Taipei to kickstart the teacher’s music career.
India goes Tamil.
The Film Federation of India has chosen Vetrimaaran’s Tamil-language Interrogation.
A group of immigrants (Pandi, Murugan, Afsal and Kumar) are detained by the local state police, tortured and forced to admit to a crime they have no knowledge of. When all hope seems to be lost, a policeman from their hometown speaks on their behalf at the court hearing, setting them free. The policeman asks for a return favor and the boys oblige, oblivious to the ill fate that awaits them. As they unwittingly bear witness to a political treason, the system seeks to silence them, at any cost. But Pandi is determined to be heard.
The film won the Amnesty International Italia Award at VEnice Film Festival.
Thailland disregards controversy.
The Federation of National Film Associations of Thailand selected the controversial film Karma by Kanittha Kwanyu.
Around this time last year, Arpat (formerly titled Arbat) made headlines after it was initially banned by the government for scenes in which a monk character is involved in activities that could be deemed offensive to Buddhism. These scenes included a young monk kissing a girl and a monk drinking alcohol.
The film eventually passed the censorship board after the scenes in question were cut, with its name also changed to remove religious connotations. At the time, some people suggested the whole situation was a publicity stunt.
Vietnam sends a film for the sixth time.
The Ministry of Culture selected Yellow Flowers on the Green Grass. The coming of age story set in the 1980s and seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, is an adaptation of a best-selling novel by Nguyen Nhat Anh. The film was directed by Victor Vu, a Vietnamese-American
Singapore deals with death sentence.
The Singapore Film Commission (SFC) selected Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice.
Aiman is a 28-year-old Malay correctional officer who is recently transferred to the territory’s top prison. He lives with his older sister Suhaila in a modest housing estate. At his new workplace, Aiman begins to take an interest in a 65-year-old sergeant named Rahim. Soon, it is revealed that the charismatic Rahim is actually the long-serving chief executioner of the prison. Rahim also takes notice of the principled and diligent Aiman. When Rahim’s assistant suddenly quits, he asks Aiman to become his apprentice. Aiman tells Suhaila of his new job position, but Suhaila becomes upset, as their father was actually executed by Rahim. Aiman knew this all along. Can Aiman overcome his conscience and a haunted past to possibly take over as the next chief executioner?
Apprentice received positive reviews and a standing ovation at the film’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Indonesia deals with its historical issues.
The Indonesian Film Company Association (PPFI) selected Letters from Prague, by Angga Dwimas Sasongko.
Larasati, daughter of Sulastri (Widyawati) who is traveling to Prague in her mission to find Jaya (Tio Pakusadewo). Larasati is looking for Jaya to give him her mother’s will; a box of mementoes from the past along with one farewell note. Jaya, who went to Prague to study nuclear science, was not able to return to Indonesia and marry Sulastri after he is declared stateless for voting against the New Order in 1965.
The Philippines go with their most famous filmmaker.
The Film Academy of the Philippines selected Ma ‘Rosa, by Brillante Mendoza.
The film tells the story of Rosa Reyes (Jaclyn Jose), a woman who owns a convenience store in a poor neighborhood of Philippines’ capital Manila, making ends meet with her husband Nestor by selling drugs.
Jaclyn Jose won for the Philippines its first Best Actress award at the Cannes International Film Festival.
China and Cambodia have not submitted a film yet.