On November 3, 2016, a momentous occasion was punctuated with favor as film director Brillante Mendoza signed on as the first ever recipient with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) in their Golden Statue Assistance Program, in helping promote Mendoza’s highly acclaimed film Ma’ Rosa. Ma’ Rosa was chosen as the Philippines’s Best Foreign Language Film entry to the Academy Awards in 2017.
The award-winning Mendoza, known for films such as Taklub (2015) and Kinatay (2009), the latter garnering him the country’s first Best Director Award from the Cannes Film Festival, has also gotten recent recognition for Ma’ Rosa (2016). The film follows the story of a family steeped in poverty and facing a crisis as the parents are caught selling drugs out of their sari-sari store.
Ma’ Rosa won its actress Jaclyn Jose a Best Actress Award from Cannes, another first for the country, and was subsequently chosen by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) to represent the nation in the 89th Academy Awards, vying to be a nominee and the winner of Best Foreign Language Film.
The FDCP, in its mission to further the enrichment of our local culture through the medium of cinema, created the Golden Statue Assistance Program to provide financial and service assistance to films competing for high-ranking international awards such as the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.
Mendoza expressed gratitude in receiving the FDCP’s help and was honored by the recognition for the Oscars, but admitted that the journey for the film had just begun. “Being chosen by the Academy here in the Philippines to represent the Philippines is only the start of the battle. […] The moment na mapili ka, napili na yung film mo—ano yung next step, that is the most important thing. [The moment you’re chosen, that your film was chosen—the most important thing is you next step],” he expressed in an interview with the FDCP.
Asked on what a nomination and a win for Ma’ Rosa would mean for him, Mendoza said that all the recognition he has gotten he has always dedicated to the country. Said Mendoza, “I think I owe it to my country, kasi kwento naman ng pelikula ko ang Pilipinas. Kwento ng pelikula ko ang mga Pilipino. I’m just giving it back to them. [I think I owe it to my country, because the Philippines makes the story of my films. Filipinos make the stories of my films. I’m just giving it back to them.]“
Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa is one among more than eighty Best Foreign Language Film submissions for the 89th Academy Awards, all competing to be one among five official nominees for the award, with the ceremonies taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA, on February 26, 2017.