On Monday, I woke up early to catch the Academy Awards. The Oscars are my Miss Universe. I grew up watching films before I even learned how to read.
But let me say it first: the Oscars are not the end-all, be-all of artistic excellence in movies. There will always be a film or an artist in any category that you will feel was robbed. Amy Adams hasn’t won an Oscar yet? Wes Anderson hasn’t? And Hillary Swank has two? At the end of the day, the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences make these decisions, and as many of these annual Oscar post-mortem pieces have made clear, the winners are selected by a small group of industry professionals (estimated at 6,000 in 2011) and composed primarily of Caucasian males, half of which are over 60.
This is how my personal essay began when I decided to tackle Moonlight‘s Oscar win for Best Picture. This was important to me and Team’s editor-in-chief and BFF, Paolo Lorenzana, knew it and kept sending the piece back to me. “Make it personal to you,” he said. “Talk about Moonlight and not just the mechanics and the raw data,” he instructed.
And I kept thinking, this win means everything to me and how, as a gay Filipino filmmaker, it legitimizes my own work and that if I work hard enough and if I learn how to tell a really, really good story then I might be able to win an Oscar too with a work that is personal and honest.
Read here how important Moonlight’s win was to me: The Radiant Glow of “Moonlight’s” Oscar (Team magazine).