Carl Joseph Papa is carrying a mighty weight on his shoulders.  His film “The Missing” or “Iti Mapukpukaw” is the Philippines’ Academy Awards entry in the Best International Feature Film category.  This is the first animated and LGBTQ+-themed film that the Philippines has submitted for Oscar considerations.  So far, the Philippines has made 33 cumulative submissions for the Academy Awards but has not been nominated yet.  So the weight on Papa’s shoulders are getting heavier and heavier.

And yet, the filmmaker is in a good mood and full of hope.  “The Missing” could follow the leads of “Waltz with Bashir” (2008) and “Flee” (2021), the two animated films nominated in the Best International Feature Film category.  And why not?  “The Missing” is an engrossing film and speaks volumes about grieving and childhood traumas.  His trio of actors namely Carlo Aquino, Gio Gahol, and Dolly De Leon are able to convey the film’s themes to a satisfying degree.

I spent some time with the filmmaker to talk about his interest in making “The Missing,” working with his actors, the animation process, the state of Filipino cinema, and what he hopes for viewers to get after watching “The Missing/Iti Mapukpukaw.”

Keep an eye out for “The Missing,” it will stay with you long after the film is over.