BUSAN, South Korea: An emotionally charged drama from the Philippines about migrant families fighting to stay together in Israel has emerged as a front-runner for the top prize at Asia’s premier film festival this week.
“Transit” from first-time director Hannah Espia has made it into the final field in the New Currents competition at the 18th Busan International Film Festival.
The film explores the stories of five migrant families who decide to hide their children from authorities in Israel rather than abide by a controversial 2011 law forbidding foreign workers from marrying or having children while on contract in the country.
“I wanted to show the lives of children born in foreign lands, and their struggles with identity,” Espia said. “The [children] are the new people of the diaspora. They are in a constant search for where they belong.” Espia added that she had been inspired after a chance meeting with a migrant worker who was bringing his 5-month-old son home to live with relatives.
“Transit” has already caused a sensation in the Philippines.
Last month it selected the film as its entry for next year’s Academy Awards, after it won the major prize at the influential Cinemalaya Festival in August, which celebrates the Philippines’ independent film.
The New Currents Award offers two prizes of $30,000 to first or second-time Asian filmmakers and festival organizers said this year’s final field of 12 – drawn from 11 countries – reflected the “realities of Asia.”