The Missing is the International Feature submission for the Philippines. The film is about Eric, a quiet young man who works as a computer animator and who has a crush on a co-worker Carlo. One day he receives a phone call from his mother Rosalinda. She’s concerned that her Uncle Rogelio has been missing for a few days. Eric and Carlo head out to his last known address only to find out that he’s been dead for a few days.
Eric has not said a word since he was a child. He now communicates by writing on a whiteboard that’s always hanging around his neck. He also has been suffering from nightmares as a child. A giant green alien keeps re-appearing in his dreams, but also while he’s at work or hanging out with Carlo and Rosalinda. His safety is hiding under his bed for hours, and sometimes even for some days. He hasn’t spoken to anyone about what’s been happening with him, and he feels alone despite Carlo and his mother’s best attempts to find out what’s wrong.
This film approaches those suffering from debilitating trauma with such care and compassion. There are certain moments in the film that are incredibly difficult to sit through, and even more so watching it a second time, but the film’s belief in gentleness and openness to those living through unfathomable mental and emotional distress is what makes The Missing so special. There are depictions of Eric’s entire world collapsing, but the reconstruction of his life is just so brilliant and gut-wrenching all at the same time.
The darkest traumas in our lives can strip away our humanity day by day, year after year, and piece by piece. Those moments in our life can fragment us, tear us apart, and alienate us from the world. We create an alternate reality to help make sense of what’s happening with our emotions, with the past, with the pain. The support of others and ones inner strength can slowly bring it back together. Those who love us enough can help us heal and piece ourselves back together, when we’re ready to let that happen.
Eric went missing the second he experienced an unspeakable tragedy. But, in time, and with resilience, he's slowly been found again.