One of the few queer-themed submission for the International Feature Oscar also happens to be one of the few animated films submitted. From the Philippines, Carl Joseph E. Papa’s The Missing tells the story of Eric, a young animator with no mouth whose dark and repressed memories slowly return as does a pesky alien bent on taking him from this Earth. The clever narrative’s mystery is slowly solved, and Eric must confront certain disturbing truths about his past.
The Missing’s protagonist, Eric (Carlo Aquino), is a sweet and shy young man that coyly crushes on his office-mate Carlo (Gio Gahol), who appears to return Eric’s feelings. One day Eric receives a call from his adoring mother Rosalinda (Triangle of Sadness standout Dolly de Leon) about his Uncle being missing. Eric, along with Carlo, discover his Uncle’s decomposing body which catapults Eric on a personal as well as galactic journey toward past recollection and trauma realization that will forever change him.
This is an animated film for adults and a very personal story for writer-director Papa who wrote the film to “encourage others to speak up.”
Papa is a software engineer turned filmmaker whose features include The Unforgetting and Manang Biring, the first Filipino animated film to be showcased in the biggest animation festival in the world the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2016. Papa’s second animated feature, Paglisan, in 2018, followed the same route.
The Philippines has entered the International Feature category 34 times and never even made the shortlist. The country is second only to Portugal for the most submissions with no nominations.
Awards Daily had pleasure of Zoom chatting with Papa about The Missing.