Cinemalaya Best Film ‘Iti Mapukpukaw’ is Phl entry to 96th Oscars

The Film Development Council of the Philippines announced on Friday that the 2023 Cinemalaya Philippine Film Festival winner for Best Film, Carl Joseph E. Papa’s animated film Iti Mapukpukaw (The Missing), is the Philippines’ official entry to the Best International Feature Film category of the 96th Academy Awards or the Oscars.

“The Carlo Aquino, Gio Gahol, and Dolly de Leon-starrer recently made history in Cinemalaya as the first-ever animated full-length entry, for which De Leon bagged the Best Supporting Actress prize,” said the FDCP in a statement.

“To support its campaign for the prestigious Oscars, the Film Development Council of the Philippines will be giving P1,000,000 through its Oscars Assistance Program to Dir. Papa and his team,” the statement added.

‘ITI Mapukpukaw’ is the first animated full-length feature to compete at Cinemalaya. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF CINEMALAYA

Iti Mapukpukaw was a landmark film in Cinemalaya’s 19 years of operations, becoming the festival’s first animated entry and also winning Best Film in the full-length category. Tackling the sensitive issue of child sex abuse, it follows the story of lead character Eric (played by Aquino) who literally has no mouth and can’t speak but goes on to overcome a traumatic experience.

Daily Tribune’s resident movie reviewer Stephanie Mayo hailed the film for its “carefully crafted, beautiful rotoscope animation.”

“An emotionally searing tale, never manipulative… This is an important film, exceptional in both form and content, and should not be missed,” she wrote.

The Philippines has been submitting official entries to the US Academy Awards since 1956. So far it has submitted 32 entries, but has had no luck scoring a nomination, let alone a win. Will Iti Mapukpukaw finally end that historic drought?