Rene quietly ponders the solemn night, accompanied by crickets chirping and his dog’s eager barking.
Bitter and misanthropic, the 75-year-old curmudgeon lives alone with his dog Bwakaw, which means “voracious” or “greedy.” It’s been 15 years since he came out, and it seems he’s still waiting – for nothing in particular.
Directed by independent Filipino filmmaker Jun Robles Lana, Bwakaw follows Rene – played by popular Filipino actor Eddie Garcia – as he faces old age with no family and few friends.
The film, which opened across the country this month, is an unusual choice for the Philippines, where LGBT storylines don’t sell well, Robles Lana told the Wall Street Journal.
But Bwakaw has already been chosen to represent the Philippines as the best foreign-language submission for the Academy Awards. It screened in Toronto last week and will appear in New York and Hawaii next month.
The film pays tribute to Robles Lana’s real-life mentor Rene Villanueva, a playwright who came out as gay late in life and died in 2007. But Robles Lana wanted to balance out the film with lightness even while it ponders the weighty, timeworn theme of aging.
“I didn’t want the film to be bleak. I used humor to break the silences,” he said.
Meditating on fears of missed chances and growing old, a voiceover in the trailer urges: “Instead of waiting for your death, just do whatever makes you happy.”
Watch the trailer for Bwakaw below.