Last Tuesday afternoon, at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, the movie press waited with bated breath the announcement of the final four films that will complete this year’s eight official entries to the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) held on Dec. 25 till the first Wednesday of the following year.
Already, it was way beyond the call time of 4 p.m. and Noel Ferrer, the person in-charge of press relations, was already wary the conference could start even later. He said the selection committee was seriously debating which film would comprise the last of the four slots to complete this year’s selection. They had 16 films from among the four films would be chosen.
Earlier this year, the MMFF Executive Committee announced the four films they had selected from among the submitted scripts, and they were Viva’s Aurora with Anne Curtis and directed by Yam Laranas; Fantastica: The Princess, The Prince and The Perya with Vice Ganda, Maris Racal, Loisa Andalio, and Maymay Entrata, and directed by Barry Gonzalez from Cinema and Viva Films; Girl in the Orange Dress with Jessy Mendiola, Jericho Rosales, Kim Chiu, Tom Rodriguez and directed by Jay Abello from Quantum and MJM Films; and Popoy En Jack: The Pulisincredibles with Vic Sotto, Coco Martin, and Maine Mendoza and directed by Rodel Nacianceno (Martin) from MZet, APT, and CCM Productions
National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera who heads the Selection committee, was present during the announcement of the first four films. He was, however, unable to attend the announcement of the final four, as he left immediately after the deliberations to decide the last film to be included in the final four ended.
And so the movie press, after a merienda of sontanghon, fried chicken, and ginataang mais, now awaited the announcement. Ferrer and a lady from the MMDA declared that the program would commence with an announcement from a representative from the local government unit of Parañaque City that is hosting this year’s MMFF on the Parade of Stars on Dec. 23rd and the Gabi ng Parangal on the 27th.
Before the final four was announced, the MMDA also awarded 16 student filmmakers P20 thousand-grant to produce short films from which the MMFF Execom would choose eight to go with the official full-length film entries.
The films are: Anod (Sarah Nicole Bautista, PUP QC), Balita (Allysa Nievera, CEU), Binibini (Neil Adrien Reyes, DLSU-CSB), Bisperas (Jessa Bisnar, PLM), Camera (Adeline Carreon (Eugenio Lopez Jr. Center for Media Arts Senior High School), Breadwinner (Ma. Arizza Ariola, Pasig Catholic College), Dalawampung Pisong Pagasa (Pauleen Valdez, St. Dominic College of Asia), Di Pa Nga Ako Kumakaen Eh (Marizen Tamondong, PUP Manila), Hayag (Patricka Coliflores Villaseñor, UP Manila), Insan (Nina Jean Comanda, DLSU-CSB), Kasilyas (Leslie Ann Ramirez, BSU), Padyak (Venice Awitin, NMColleges, Inc.), Paraiso (Carlo Lopez, UP Diliman), Sasagot Ka Pa? (Ronald Van Angelo Dulatre, DLSU-CSB), Si Luisa, Ang Artista (Peter John Teneza, PUP QC), and Tahanan (Demetrio Celestino III, Catanduanes StateU).
The eight films to be chosen will be announced on the third week of November.
Back to the final four full-length films, the press was already wondering if Brillante Mendoza’s Alpha, The Right To Kill would make it to the list. After all it had been honored at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain with Special Mention of the Jury and Special Prize of the Jury apart from being nominated for the Golden Seashell, the top prize of the festival.
So, it was time for the final four films to be announced. Prior to that Ferrer and the lady from MMDA recapped and showed the trailers of the four films selected earlier. But the press was already perky waiting for the main event—the final four.
Then, it happened. I already had a smidgen of what it was going to be for Mendoza. I just needed validation.
The final four films were finally announced beginning with Ten 17P’s Mary, Marry Me with Sam Milby, Toni and Alex Gonzaga directed by RC de los Reyes. I said that was expected. And then it was followed by another expected-to-be-announced film, Regal Entertainment’s One Great Love with Dennis Trillo and Kim Chiu directed by Enrico (Eric) Quizon. The third film was an unexpected as it was about an aging gay father that comes out finally in his 80s—Heaven’s Best Entertainment’s Rainbow’s Sunset directed by Joel Lamangan and starring Gloria Romero, Eddie Garcia, and Tony Mabesa.
What could be the final film? Everyone seemed to be wondering, and then it was announced. The press finally was able to breath freely as the name Joven Tan (Jovinor M. Tan) was called. He directed Otlum, the horror film that made up the final eight films, for Horseshoe Studios, starring Ricci Rivero and Jerome Ponce.
I asked Tan how he felt that his film was chosen over and above a film that has been decorated abroad and he said, “I guess I am just lucky that the committee found my film worthy to be among the eight entries. I don’t want to comment on any of the films made by fellow directors. I am just grateful.”
Selection of the eight films were based on the following criteria: artistic excellence, 40 percent; commercial appeal, 40 percent; promotion of Filipino cultural and historical values, 10 percent; and global appeal, 10 percent. I wonder where among the criteria Mendoza’s Alpha got the lowest.
Apart from Lumbera, those who are members of the selection committee were Jesse Ejercito, Eveylene Advincula, Roy Iglesias, Maria Anicia Naval, Mel Chionglo, James Bartolome, Lualhati Bautista, Cesar Ona, Jr., Irene Jose, Lilibeth Nakpil and Consoliza Laguardia.
So there you are folks. On the 25th of December, you must pick your films to watch. Watching a movie now is not an inexpensive pastime. Choose the film that will make you and your family happy, or if not, wait for it to be screened on your favorite movie channel on cable TV or digital TV.