Now it can be told rather lamentably that Nico Garcia’s Ploning fails to make it in the shortlist of the Oscars Best Foreign Language Film category. Early buzzers like Germany’s The Baader Meinhof Complex, France’ The Class, Japan’s Departures, Sweden’s Everlasting Moments, Canada’s The Necessities of Life, Austria’s Revanche, Mexico’s Tear This Heart Out, Turkey’s 3 Monkeys, and Israel’s Waltz With Bashir were unsurprisingly present, and their strong showing means that the Judy Ann Santos starrer of an island lass who waits unfailingly for the return of a lover gone offshore was up against heavyweights.
Which is not to say that Ploning lacks merits sufficient to propel it to the finals. While epic films are understandably noteworthy in movie derbies because of their inherent qualities, films that show a panoramic view of human life are more recognizable, notwithstanding if they originate from the Third World. This is what Ploning is about, told in a beautifully subdued manner and against a picturesque tropical backdrop: the many nuances of love that people may feel apart from the much-explored romantic variety. Why, First World countries do not hold a cinematic junta of significant human experiences like the aforementioned; their unfair advantage is that they can raise enough funding to mount screenings that create promotional works and, ultimately, that have voting members taking notice. That did it in, but I will never lose faith in Ploning not only because my favorite pop icon plays the role of the poignantly amorous protagonist, but also because it is a homegrown film I can be proud of for its sincere portrayal of a largely unexamined slice of Philippine life.
And in order to prove how I salute the team that produced a world-class Filipino film out of the all-encompassing emotion that’s love, here: