MANILA, Philippines - Things continue to look up for the Jun Lana-helmed independent film ''Bwakaw,'' the Philippines' official entry to the Best Foreign Feature Film category of the 85th Academy Awards (Oscar) next year, as it has climbed a notch from sixth last month to fifth place as of today in the leading Oscar prediction site, Awards Circuit.
''Bwakaw'' is the sole Asian film to be included in Awards Circuit's top five, with the other four coming from European countries. These are ''Amour'' (Austria), ''The Intouchables'' (France), ''A Royal Affair'' (Denmark), and ''Beyond the Hills'' (Romania).
''Barbara,'' Germany's official entry that previously occupied the top five slot, now sits in sixth place. Meanwhile, two other Asian films have also been able to make it to the predictions list's 15 Top Tier Contenders, namely Israel's ''Fill the Void'' and South Korea's ''Pieta.''
On the other hand, international trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter named ''Bwakaw'' as one of the 10 ''major threats'' to its five ''front-runners'' under the Foreign Feature category in its own prediction list published online last Oct. 28.
A total of 71 films have already been shortlisted under aforementioned category. The titles of the final five contenders will be announced on Jan. 10, and the winner will be crowned during the awards ceremony on Feb. 24.
Just last year, indie flick ''Ang Babae sa Septic Tank'' by Marlon Rivera made it to the Oscar's 63 shortlisted entries. In previous years, a number of Filipino films have likewise managed to make it only until the shortlist, including Adolf Alix, Jr.'s ''Donsol'' in 2007 and Gil Porters' ''Mga Munting Tinig (Small Voices)'' in 2002.
''Bwakaw'' premiered last July in the 8th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival as part of the Directors Showcase category, where it won the Balanghai for Best Actor (Eddie Garcia), as well the section's Audience Choice and the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) awards.
''Bwakaw'' then had a local run in mainstream theaters last September, and has made rounds in various foreign film festivals such as in Toronto, New York, and Tokyo, where it garnered rave reviews from international film critics.
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