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Here Are 3 Gawad Urian 2021 Best Picture Nominees That You Shouldn’t Miss

Pope Francis had something to say about their disturbing themes.

What do the movies Aswang, Watch List, and A Thousand Cuts all have in common?

Aside from being nominated in the Best Picture category of the 2021 Gawad Urian Awards, all three tackle pressing issues in Philippine society that have not escaped Pope Francis’s attention. The first two deal with President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, the third on his infringement of press freedom.  

Gawad Urian 2021: Aswang

Nominated for Best Director, Best Sound, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography, the 2019 documentary Aswang follows the intertwined lives of people affected by the extrajudicial killings (EJK) of small-time suspected drug users and mules. (Read: Bishop Welcomes ICC Probe Into Duterte’s War on Drugs)

Gawad Urian 2021: Watch List

Scoring 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the gritty 2019 drama Watch List stars Alessandra de Rossi as Maria, a widow who offers to be a police informant to protect her children from the drug war. The movie also got nods for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Sound.

Gawad Urian 2021: A Thousand Cuts

Received with a standing ovation after it premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the 2020 documentary A Thousand Cuts captures the disturbing events of another war, this one against press freedom. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa allows us to witness what she calls “abuse of power” and “weaponization of the law” through her cyber libel arrest and the president’s dressing down of Rappler reporter Pia Ranada. (Read: Rappler CEO Maria Ressa Found Guilty of Cyber Libel)

What Pope Francis said

“We need a journalism that is free, at the service of truth, goodness, and justice; a journalism that helps build a culture of encounter. #DefendMediaFreedom,” tweeted Pope Francis during World Press Freedom Day in 2019.

Of the Philippines’ extra judicial killings, Lolo Kiko has expressed support for Bishop Pablo Virgilio David who called for an end to government’s war on drugs and to provide rehabilitation to drug addicts.  “I want you to know that I know your situation. I know what you are going through. I am praying for you,” was the Holy Father’s message to Bishop David, according to a report.

Last July, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown assured the widows and children of EJK victims that he would tell Pope Francis about them. (Read: Papal Nuncio To Relay Stories Of Drug War Victims’ Families To Pope Francis In October)

“I am deeply sorry for everything that you have to go through,” he said in a report. “I assure you that Pope Francis is close to you. In fact, I would be going to see Pope Francis in October and I promise you I will tell him about this experience in person,” he said to them.

Who will sweep the most awards and win Best Picture? The 2021 Gawad Urian Awards is tentatively scheduled for October 6 at 6 pm, and will stream on Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s Facebook Page.

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