It’s true that it is difficult to reconcile artistic integrity and commercial success. But a well-made film shouldn’t have to think about its box office performance because the audience would recognize right away if the film was good or trash.
The Metro Manila Film Festival has been underestimating the audience for years thinking that Filipinos are not ready for intelligent and well-crafted movie. That’s why when MMFF Execom released the first four films joining the annual MMFF, the agency drew flaks which also led to the resignation of four of its members (Ricky Lee, Roland Tolentino, Ed Lejano and Kara Alikpala). They noted that they were not seeing the reforms that they tried to implement in 2016.
Now, four films from T-Rex Entertainment, Ten17 Productions, Regal Entertainment, and Culturtain Musicat Productions have been named official entries to this year’s MMFF completing the so-called “Magic 8,” which will all be screened beginning Dec. 23.
According to MMFF Executive Committee Chairman Tim Orbos, the Rules Committee applied a new vetting scheme for this year’s festival to assure that there is no discrimination among commercial and independent film entries. Hence, from big commercial movies like Coco Martin’s Ang Panday, Vice Ganda’s The Revengers Squad, Vic Sotto and Dawn Zulueta’s Meant To Beh and Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado’s All of You, MMFF 2017 selected a new roster of films that gives the festival a more diverse lineup.
The four films are: Deadma Walking from T-Rex Entertainment, directed by Julius Alfonso and starring Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman; Siargao by TEN17 Productions, directed by Paul Soriano and starring Jericho Rosales and Erich Gonzales; Haunted Forest by Regal Entertainment, directed by Ian Loreños and starring Jameson Blake and Jane Oineza; and Ang Larawan by Culturtrain Musicat Productions, directed by Loy Arcenas and starring Rachel Alejandro and Joanna Ampil.
The comedy Deadma Walking is a film adaptation of a Palanca-winning screenplay which story revolves around two gay best friends (Gamboa and Guzman) whose friendship is put to the test when one of them is diagnosed with cancer and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish.
Siargao is Soriano’s first foray into the romance genre after directing a few award-winning movies. The film, which is filled with gorgeous shots from the country’s surfing capital, is billed as a romantic adventure that promotes the province as a tourist destination. The story is about a man who returns to his hometown where he meets a young woman who, on the other hand, trying to reconnects with her childhood friend. According to Soriano, the film is about finding home and realizing the simple things can bring life happiness.
The lone horror film in the festival is Haunted Forrest. The film is set in a small town where a few women suddenly went missing and their bodies are found dead in the forest. Locals believe that the incident is linked to a mythical night creature “sitsit,” which serves as the essential horror of the entire film.
And the fourth entry is the musical Ang Larawan. The movie adaptation of the beloved Filipino musical of the same name features a star-studded cast. It centers on two siblings, who are both struggling and surviving. They are caught between succumbing to modernity or leaving behind their beliefs and traditions. According to Ampil, during previous interviews, the musical is also a story of a father who faces numerous struggles after experiencing artistic drought.
Unlike the first four films that were picked from the pool of submitted scripts, which list was announced in July, these entries were chosen from finished film submissions.