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‘Oro’ turns ‘Piedra’: A disturbing twist on MMFF winning film

In many cases, real animals are required for the story for it to be realistic and believable. In the very same premise, in a scene from Oro, a Metro Manila Film Festival entry, a dog was slaughtered because “it is part of a tradition.”

However, in a statement posted on the film’s Facebook page, director Alvin Yapan vehemently denied that they killed a dog for the movie. He said the scene was based on the testimony of a witness and that he never asked an actor to kill a dog in the film. 

“I did not invent the metaphor of killing a dog just for the movie to be talked about,” Yapan’s statement said. “I’m not dumb. And any actor for sure will not allow it. And I will never put any actor in that position.”

The cast of the controversial MMFF 2016 entry, "Oro"

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) thinks otherwise. In a statement, Peta-Asia said witnesses confirmed that the dog slaughter scene was real.

“Whether or not the dog slaughter scene was intentionally staged or a dog was coincidentally slaughtered at the location of the movie, the fact remains that the killing was illegal,” Peta-Asia said.

The film, which won three trophies at the MMFF Gabi ng Parangal namely Best Actress (Irma Adlawan), Best Ensemble Cast, and the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award, is now in the center of controversy after barrage of complaints flooded social media calling the withdrawal of Oro in the film fest. 

Oro was stripped off the FJP award due to this controversy. 

MMFF Gabi ng Parangal Best Supporting Actress Phoebe Walker (top) and Best Supporting Actor Christian Bables

In statement sent to the media by MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer, it said that theater owners had been advised to stop screening Oro until the filmmaker submit an edited version cutting out the dog slaughter. And in revoking the FPJ award, the statement said,

“Upon consultation with the family of the late Fernando Poe, Jr., the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee announces the withdrawal of the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award recently granted to the film Oro. Without making any judgment on the artistic merit of the film or cinematic depiction, the MMFF finds the present controversy on the alleged killing of a dog in the course of the filming of the movie effectively casts a doubt on the movie’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe, Jr.”

Their statement furthered that they would like to reiterate that the MMFF Executive Committee takes this opportunity to strongly emphasize that it has not condoned nor will ever condone any cruelty to animals. Neither will it allow the Festival to be the vehicle for any such actions.

Senior actress Irma Adlawan accepts her Best Actress trophy for her role in the much talked about film, "Oro"   Photos by Teddy Pelaez

The MMFF has been getting positive feedback from the audience and local film community for giving this year’s festival a much-needed makeover. It staged the festival’s 42nd edition excluding commercial films that used to be staples in the annual film event.

At the awards presentation on Dec. 29, Sunday Beauty Queen, which follows a group of Hong Kong-based house maids as they prepare for a beauty contest dubbed the “Miss Philippines Tourism Hong Kong and is the only documentary to be included in the MMFF’s 42-year history, won best picture. The docu film also won the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Memorial Award.

Meanwhile, the most decorated films of the Gabi ng Parangal were Seklusyon and Die Beautiful. Seklusyon garnered the most number of major awards with 8 trophies including the Best Director award for Erik Matti. Die Beautiful, on the other hand, bagged the awards for Best Actor for Paolo Ballesteros, Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bables and the Audience Choice Award.

Topics: Oro , Metro Manila Film Festival , MMFF , People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals , Peta , MMFF Gabi ng Parangal
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