“Heneral Luna,” the acclaimed historical biographical film of Jerrold Tarog, is the country’s official entry to the prestigious Oscars or Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language film category.
This was announced by the makers of the film on General Antonio Luna in their official Facebook page after a special seven-man committee created by the Film Academy of the Philippines selected the film for Oscars.
“We are happy to announce and share with everyone the good news: HENERAL LUNA has been selected as the Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2016 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film Category,” the post read.
The committee was chaired by filmmaker Mel Chionglo and composed of actors Lorna Tolentino and Michael de Mesa, cinematographer Lee Meiley, directors Joe Carreon and Boy Vinarao, and academician Rolando Tolentino.
“Heneral Luna” was selected over Brillante Mendoza’s “Taklub” and Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s “Hari ng Tondo.”
The film on the life and times of one of the country’s national heroeshas been met with favorable reviews since it opened in theaters nationwide and abroad last September 9.
The movie was well-received by the general public resulting to extension to its theatrical run and even add more cinemas on its second week of exhibition.
The movie is a production of Artikulo Uno, in partnership with Tuko and Buchi Boy Films,
The film focuses on General Antonio Luna, the brother of the famous artist Juan Luna. The younger Luna is known for his bad temper, an aspect of his personality that was beautifully captured in “Heneral Luna.”
Set during the Philippine-American war, “Heneral Luna” showed different aspects of the country’s history that is rarely shown in other local films in this genre. Tarog did not hesitate to show the flaws in Luna’s personality. Luna can be heard spewing curse words all throughout the film as he tried to win against the Americans.
Interspersed with Luna’s tough personality is his determination to take back the country’s independence, to the point of pushing almost everyone against him.
Although it is common knowledge that Luna died in the hands of fellow Filipinos, seeing it in action and in the big screen will make the viewers feel bad for Luna.
“Heneral Luna” is directed by Jerrold Tarog and stars John Arcilla in the title role, with an ensemble cast that includes Joem Bascon, Archie Alemania, Alex Medina, and Mon Confiado as General Emilio Aguinaldo. Nonie Buencamio, Arron Villaflor, Epy Quizon, Art Acuna, Jun-Jun Quintana, Mylene Dizon, Bing Pimentel, with the special participation of Paulo Avelino.
The film is executive-produced by Fernando Ortigas and produced by Eduardo A. Rocha.
In a statement, Ortigas and Rocha expressed their elation over the choice of the film for the Oscars. “We are both overjoyed by this great news. There are no words for the tremendous pride and honor that we feel, with the film being chosen to officially represent our country to the Oscars. In a way, it’s most fitting, because this film celebrates us all as a nation, in the richest and most complex of ways. With the movie-going public coming behind us, and now this, there is very little to nothing that we can complain about. Sure, it would help if the movie made all its money back soon. But what we have right now is something that not even money can buy. And for this we are most grateful.”
According to its producers, “Heneral Luna” also opened in key cities in the United States.
In commemoration of National Heroes Day, the historical biopic had its simultaneous global premieres in the U.S. and in the Middle East.
The film premiered in the U.S. at the Anthology Film Archives Cinema in New York and at AMC Rio Cinema in DC/ Maryland/VA both last August 30 and at the Krikorian Monrovia Cinema in Los Angeles and at the Marina Theater in San Francisco last August 31
“Heneral Luna” also premiered at the Rizal Hall Theater of the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai last August 30.
The film was based on a script written 17 years ago by E.A. Rocha and the late Henry Hunt Francia from mostly documented accounts on the life and times of national hero Antonio Luna.
Both Rocha, who produced the film for Artikulo Uno Productions, and Tarog cite “The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna” by Vivencio José and Nick Joaquin’s “A Question of Heroes” as among their basis for the film’s depiction of Luna.
“There’s no personal agenda here. We just want to tell the truth about Antonio Luna,” Tarog declared during the film’s recent press conference even as he and Rocha admitted that the film also took minor creative liberties (i.e. the use of the “P.I.” cuss word uttered by Luna in one scene) in contemporizing the life of the hero for the millennial generation-the demographics they are targeting the most.