Ever since Pinoy filmmakers got over the Third World and exploitation genres, there’s been an unspoken, unexplained annual theme for independent or “festival” films. 2011 was the year of landscapes (or as Cinemanila’s Founding Festival Director Tikoy Aguiluz lovingly calls it, “the year of ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’”), and 2012 was the year of the dead (Cinemalaya’s line-up had people dying and/or memories of the dead haunting the living all around).

2013, on the other hand, is shaping up to be the year of the Oscars Fever. The 15th edition of the Cinemanila International Film Festival is showing a number of foreign language entries to the 86th Academy Awards (including our very own “Transit” by Hannah Espia).

Here they are with internationally-acclaimed local films you really shouldn’t miss.
8. “In Bloom” (Georgia) by Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Groß

Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’ coming-of-age drama set during Georgia’s civil war has been scooping up awards worldwide.

“In Bloom” is Georgia’s entry to the 86th Academy Awards. It premiered in this year’s Berlin International Film Festival where it won the CICAE Prize.

7. “The Missing Picture” (Cambodia) by Rithy Panh

Rithy Panh uses clay figures, archival footage, and his narration to recreate the atrocities Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge committed between 1975 and 1979.

“The Missing Picture” is Cambodia’s entry to the 86th Academy Awards. The film won the Un Certain Regard 2013 Award at the Cannes Film Festival and the Otrovsky Award for Best Documentary in “Spirit of Freedom” at the 30th Jerusalem Film Festival.

6. “How to Disappear Completely” (Philippines) by Raya Martin

Raya Martin’s most recent film deconstructs the supernatural thriller by slowing down every moment to the point of pure abstraction. The synthesizer score, insane directionality, sublime visuals, and horrifically symbolic ending make this something of a marvel.

Official Selection, 2013 San Diego Asian Film Festival and the 2013 Locarno International Film Festival.

5. “Neigboring Sounds” (Brazil)

Considered “a chronicle of today’s Recife” by Brazilian president herself Dilma Rousseff, Kleber Mendonca Filho’s feature debut “Neighboring Sounds” is based on people living their lives and common situations that take place everyday.

“Neighboring Sounds” has earned accolades from various international film festivals. It’s Brazil’s entry to the 86th Academy Awards.

4. “Heli” (Mexico) by Amat Escalante

Cannes 2013 Best Director Amat Escalante effectively ‘sends a message commenting on the fear and degradation of future generations in Mexico specifically as a result of corruption and drug trafficking in underdeveloped areas.

“Heli” premiered in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where director Amat Escalante was awarded Best Director. The film is Mexico’s foreign language entry to the 86th Academy Awards.

3. “Ilo Ilo” (Singapore) by Anthony Chen

Set in Singapore, IloIlo chronicles the relationship between the Lim family and their newly arrived maid, Teresa.

“Ilo Ilo” has won awards from various international film festivals including the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Camera d’Or Award. The film is Singapore’s foreign language entry to the 86th Academy Awards.

2. “The Rocket” (Australia) by Kleber Mendonça Filho

“Australian filmmaker Kim Mordaunt—whose documentary Bomb Harvest investigated Laos’s status as the most bombed country in the world—returned to make this fable-like drama, one of its first internationally released feature films. The Rocket’s characters, mostly played by non-professional actors, embody the spirit of resilience and hope born out of a country affected by a legacy of war and undergoing a great economic change.” –Ian Hollander

“The Rocket” has won awards from various international film festivals including Best Debut Feature at the Berlin International Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is Australia’s foreign language entry to the 86th Academy Awards.

1. “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” (Philippines) by Lav Diaz

The most recent work of the legendary Filipino filmmaker follows the story of a man who is wrongly jailed for murder while the real killer roams free.

“Dense like literature and deeply rooted in the cave of cinema, Diaz’s film gives us the best and the worst of humanity.” –Kong Rithdee

“Norte, Hangganan ng Kasyasayan” premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section. It has since been screened in a number of film festivals around the world. The screening at the 15th Cinemanila International Film Festival will mark the internationally-acclaimed film’s Philippine premiere.


Catch these films and more at the 15th Cinemanila International Film Festival from December 18 to 22 at SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For more information, check them out on Facebook or click here to go to the website.

Comments, suggestions? Hit us up in the Comments Section below.

Jozza Alegre Palaganas

Jozza has two life pegs: Martha Stewart and Jonah Peretti. She dreams of one day owning a juicer and the Internet. In the meantime, she's 8List's managing editor.

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