Despite the ongoing trend of dwindling television audiences for its Oscar Awards, and a general derision against Hollywood and the film industry, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has shouldered on with its stated goal of advancing artistic and scientific development in filmmaking. How this is done is a guarded secret by the Academy members, thousands of film industry personages in various branches from actors to directors to visual effects specialists and so on. Recently AMPAS has taken steps to increase its standing membership from 6,000 to 9,000 and has sent more invites to industry insiders in the US and around the world. This includes the Philippines.
While the Academy tries to keep its entire membership roster a secret, it has been known that among the latest additions to AMPAS includes three Filipino filmmakers according to CNN Philippines. They are Baby Ruth Villarama, Ditsi Carolino and P.J. Raval. All three are documentary directors, with Villarama having been at the helm of Gawad Urian winner “Sunday Beauty Queen.” Raval for his part directed the Jennifer Laude documentary film “Call Her Ganda,” while Carolino lists 2009’s “Lupang Hinirang or Hindered Islands” among her credits.
The three are not the only known Filipino directors to become part of AMPAS in recent history. Two years ago in 2017, Brilliante Mendoza and Lav Diaz were also made part of the Academy, for which membership is strictly by invitation from their organizational leadership, the Board of Governors. The fact that Carolino, Raval and Villarama got invites can be attributed to the ongoing Academy reorganization to bring in fresh blood and more international members, all as part of addressing the recent “#OscarsSoWhite” criticism for having predominantly Caucasian-looking nominees. The Filipino documentarians are among 842 new invitees, which AMPAS describes as being roughly 50% women and 29% people of color.
At least Villarama and Raval are known to have expressed their gratitude for this high honor and responsibility on social media. Raval’s Instagram post shared the good news of joining AMPAS, along with the honor of having “Call Her Ganda” being shown on “POV,” the indie nonfiction anthology program of US free-TV network PBS. Villarama in turn expressed her gratitude to the Academy on Facebook, for allowing her and her associates to add “Pinoy Power” to the Oscars award-giving body, and promised to help bring more attention to Asian documentaries.
Invitations to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are given out annually. In addition to the Filipino documentarians, other new members include recording artist Lady Gaga (having starred in “A Star is Born”), Claire Foy (young Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s “The Crown”) and finally Tom “Spider-Man” Holland.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News