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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Awakening: An MMFF 2020 afterthought

‘Conspicuously silent’ is the proper phrase to describe the decision of the Metro Manila Film Festival top honchos to not disclose the official net income of the festival’s online incarnation. No numbers were presented as well as to how many were the international audiences who did view the films in competition. 

If we are to believe the social media postings from the most popular networks, no film can claim that it has the upper hand in the digital universe receiving so much love, strong word of mouth, and acclaim that was accepted and embrace wholeheartedly.    

What are the precious learning gems that we can unearth from this entertainment tradition that decided to go full throttle with their online quest? The answers to the query hopefully awaken us all, to respect tried and tested formulas, think of out of the box so that we may bring back the audiences in cinemas.

While ‘Fan Girl’ starring Charlie Dizon and Paulo Avelino was the most decorated MMFF 2020 film, the organizers of the annual fest failed to give the public the figures that will define the success of the movie that streamed online during the holidays.

The quarantine season makes it impossible for metro and mega-Manilans to troop to the cinema houses even if the majority are risking life and limb to earn a living now despite the situation we are all in.  With a new strain of the virus entering the country and the vaccine, only those in MGCQ areas allowed access to cinemas in their respective areas.

True, there are online audiences that did watch the motion picture offerings. However, if we are to believe the veracity of the unofficial gross income reports that this year’s roster of holiday viewing fare only earned P31million, loudly it screamed underperforming.

For sure, the powers that be already identified the reasons why this box office outcome happened and it is pointless to rub salt on their wounds and egos. Even saying that their very arrogance and ambition are the culprits to this unsatisfying outcome is useless, too.

The biggest learning gem, sex sells! And how? Proof of this, the center of Fan Girl’s promotion was anchored on the prosthetic enhanced phallus of its lead actor, Paulo Avelino.

The results, of course, were diamonds. Not only was it this year’s festival money maker, but it was also awarded the top honors. What perplexes, those who raved about the supposedly Antoinette Jadaone’s best film work, refused to see its flaws and implausibility.  Some even claimed that it was a “subtle” and “silent” protest against the political status quo. This conceit of course is questionable.  

Riding on this sex sells formula are two films, Anak ng Macho Dancer whose publicity angles are not only titillating but mind-boggling. Paglaki Ko Gusto Kong Maging Porn Star, on the other hand, is a sexy satire on the Filipinos fixation on how bold stars are made with a stellar cast that includes Alma Moreno, Ara Mina, Maui Taylor, and Rosanna Roces playing themselves, acting as mentors to bold star wannabes.

People long for comedies. Not the black comedies. Nada to the comedy of manners. Nay to comedies that only intellectuals and critics crave for and understand.

The impressive box office standings of Mang Kepweng at Ang Lihim ng Bandanang Itim headlined by Vhong Navarro and Pakboys: Takusa, which starred seasoned comedians Andrew E, Dennis Padilla, and Janno Gibbs are proofs that the old fashioned way of tickling the Pinoys funny bones will never go out of style. 

“Baduy” and “sumakit ang panga at tiyan mo dahil sa kabalastugan” are still the most potent ingredients to woe Pinoy mass audiences.

For most of the online audiences, the many diverse themes, plots, and production values they view from the international staples in Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and other internet platforms are the culprit as to why the dramas shown in this year’s line-up, did not arouse the curiosities of the prospective watchers.

An erring father portrayed seeking forgiveness in Coming Home, a priest who performs modern-day miracles in Father Suarez The Healing Priest, romantic love of cosmopolitan adults in Tagpuan, and a bizarre love triangle of aging lovers in Isa Pang Bahaghari did not have the power to lure the spectators.

Love, especially the one considered as innocent like the experience of first romance, despite being of the same gender, was the best asset of The Boy Foretold By The Stars.

With its eye candy pairing and honest portrayals of Keann Johnson and Adrian Lindayag, and the manner how their romance blossomed, reminded all of the time when how young love, sweet love is indeed unforgettable.

The BL genre is here and there are many pink stories that are waiting to be told and seen for the public’s consumption and education.

Hello Stranger is reportedly eyeing a Valentine’s Day opening. The movie, which stars Tony Labrusca and JC Alcantara as Xavier and Mico, makes history as the first Boys Love drama to be shown on the most romantic date of the year.

And yes, a good jolt and shrieking and shouting because of horror cannot be missed.  That is why The Missing made its presence felt.

Now that we have enumerated the learning gems from this year’s MMFF, when things are back to “normal,” what type of Filipino films will bring the Pinoys out of their domestic cocoons

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