'Transit' emerges as front-runner in Busan
BUSAN, South Korea - An emotionally charged drama from the Philippines about migrant families fighting to stay together in Israel has emerged as a front-runner for the top prize at Asia's premier film festival this week.
"Transit," by first-time director Hannah Espia, has made it into the final field in the New Currents competition at the 18th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).
The film explores the stories of 5 migrant families who decide to hide their children from authorities in Israel rather than abide by a new controversial law forbidding foreign workers from marrying or having children while on contract in the country.
"I wanted to show the lives of children born in foreign lands, and their struggles with identity," Espia told a press conference.
"The [children] are the new people of the diaspora. They are in a constant search for where they belong."
Espia said she was inspired to write the film after a chance meeting with a migrant worker who was bringing his 5-month-old son home to live with relatives.
'Realities of Asia'
"Transit" has already caused a sensation in the Philippines, whose millions of overseas workers keep the economy afloat with dollar remittances.
In September, the Film Academy of the Philippines selected the film as its entry for next year's Academy Awards, after it won the major prize at the influential Cinemalaya independent film festival in August.
The New Currents award offers two prizes of $30,000 to first or second-time Asian filmmakers and festival organizers said this year's final field of 12 - drawn from 11 countries - reflected the "realities of Asia."
That is certainly the case for Mongolian director Byamba Sakhya, who has brought "Remote Control" to Busan.
As the first entrant from his country to make the New Currents short-list, Sakhya said he wanted to use the opportunity to turn the spotlight on to Mongolia, and to inspire young filmmakers to follow the same path.
"Remote Control" is set in an urban tower block and deals with one man's growing obsession with a neighbor.
"To be selected here has encouraged me and hopefully it will encourage others," he said.
"Our film industry is small, our capital only has 4 cinemas, but we are growing.
"I wanted to show how our society is in transition - but we still have hope."
The New Currents award winners will be announced on Saturday, October 12, the last day of the festival. - Rappler.com