Philippines Drives ‘Transit’ to Oscar Race

First-time feature scored at Cinemalaya festival, heads for Busan

HONG KONG — “Transit,” a film about migrant workers in Israel, has been selected as The Philippines’ contender for the foreign-language Academy Awards race.

The film is the feature debut of writer-director-editor Hannah Espia.

It had its premiere at Cinemalaya, The Philippines’ acclaimed festival of indie film, where it won the best picture award.

The Oscar selection was made by the Film Academy of the Philippines and a committee headed by Peque Gallaga. The committee admitted that “Transit” was a late contender as it only began its commercial release a week ago. Local reports say the committee votes were tied between three films – “Transit,” Erik Matti’s “On the Job” and Brillante Mendoza’s “Thy Womb” — requiring Gallaga to exercise a decisive vote.

The film will next play at the Busan festival.

The Philippines has regularly offered films for the foreign-language category, but none has ever been nominated.

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