MANILA, Philippines - Erik Matti, film director of "On The Job" ("OTJ"), which was presented in Cannes in May 2013, said he was surprised and puzzled that Cinemalaya Best Picture "Transit" was chosen as the Philippines' entry in this year's Academy Awards, reports Hollywood Flip.
In a press conference for the film's US release in Glendale, California, Matti expressed his reservations on the decision by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) to field the Hannah Espia film to the Academy Awards for consideration in the Foreign-Language Film category.
According to the report, "Transit" was a last-minute entry in the final list of films being considered by a committee at the FAP.
Besides "OTJ," Jeffrey Jeturian's "Ekstra" and Brillante Mendoza's "Thy Womb" were also part of the list.
“Their styles were stylistically good for their respective movies," FAP president Peque Gallaga said about those films.
"But 'Transit' had a better chance of winning," explained the filmmaker of "Oro Plata Mata" and "Sonata."
"In the history of the Oscars, they don’t usually give it to ethnic movies or action movies. They preferred melodramas,” Gallaga said.
Matti emphasized that he had nothing against Espia's debut film, but rather against the rationale behind the FAP's choice, given that "OTJ" and "Thy Womb" each already have an international reach.
He explained that having an existing US distributor is a marketing edge for the Academy's voters.
Watch the 'Transit' trailer here:
Matti disputed the view that his film depicts the Philippines in a negative light. He cited other politically charged entries for consideration by the Oscars, such as Mexico's "Heli," UK's "Metro Manila," and Singapore's "Ilo-Ilo."
He also claimed that several politicians objected to his film's consideration.
"I’ve heard that there were several letters from several politicians...sent to the [FAP] not to choose 'OTJ' because of its political nature. Or maybe at the height of the pork barrel scam. That’s part of it."
Watch the 'OTJ' trailer here:
“On The Job,” now on its 4th week in Philippine theaters, is set for release in the US on September 27.