The Philippines has selected the Brillante Mendoza-directed war drama “Mindanao” as its national contender for the Academy Awards best international feature category.

The selection was made by the Film Academy of The Philippines and announced on Tuesday by the Academy’s director general Vivian Velez.

The film tells the twin stories of a Muslim woman who remains at home caring for her cancer-ridden daughter in a temporary shelter and that of her husband who is a combat medical officer near the front lines of a battle in Maguindanao.

“Mindanao” premiered in October last year at the 2019 Busan International Film Festival and subsequently played at the Cairo and Kolkata festivals. It made a bigger splash at the Metro Manila Film Festival, The Philippines’ annual celebration of local movies. There it won 11 prizes, including best film and best actress for female lead Judy Ann Santos, and was nominated in a further six categories.

Reviewing the film from last year’s Tokyo Festival, Variety called “Mindanao” well acted but clumsy.

The film was produced through Centerstage Production and distributed locally by Solar Pictures.

Mendoza is a big name on the Asian festival circuit after films including “Kinatay” and “Thy Womb” won major prizes. It is the second time that a film by Mendoza has been chosen by The Philippines for the Oscars race, following his gritty drugs tale “Ma Rosa” in 2016. The country has submitted films in most years since 2000, but so far has received no long list selections and no nominations.

The 93rd edition of the Academy Awards has been delayed due to the effects of the coronavirus, and the eligibility period extended to cover films released between January 2020 and February 2021. The awards ceremony is now scheduled to take place on April 25, 2021.