The holiday season is upon us, and with the spirit of joy and merriment being felt all around so is the 45th edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
This year’s iteration of the annual Tagalog movie fest, which runs from Dec. 25 until Jan. 7 of the coming year, features eight films selected from a pool of 26 entries (from 22 production outfits), spanning genres from romance to comedy, to action and horror, and everything in between, with the occasional blending of genres.
Four films initially became official entries. They were selected by the MMFF committee according to its fulfillment of the following criteria: artistic excellence (40 percent); commercial appeal (40 percent); Filipino cultural sensibility (10 percent); and global appeal (10 percent).
The films were: Miracle in Cell No. 7, Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity, The Mall The Merrier (which used Momalland as working title), and Sunod (which replaced the slot for (K) Ampon).
On Oct.16, the selection committee announced the final four entries chosen from finished film submissions. These were 3Pol Trobol Huli Ka Balbon, Mindanao, Culion, and Write About Love.
Like a royal affair, the MMFF is the most anticipated film event in the country. It’s the most popular film fest in the Philippines after all.
3pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon
Coco Martin has definitely looked upon FPJ for inspiration because in the film, the 38-year-old star is the lead actor, he’s also at the helm (using his real name Rodel Nacianceno), not to mention the film’s producer (CCM Creative Productions), too.
He is joined by Jennylyn Mercado, Ai-Ai delas Alas, and Sam Milby in the cast.
In the story, Coco plays Apollo “Pol” Balbon, a cop who is out to prove his innocence after he was framed for the murder of his boss.
This entry is penned by Ricky Lee and directed by AlvinYapan, had its premiere in Culion, Palawan where the story was based from. The setting of the historical period drama had endured the stigma brought by its historic past as home to the biggest leper colony in the world.
According to its director, Culion is a story that has never been told especially commercially. It’s new and fresh, something that MMFF regulars are not used to.
Brillante Mendoza’s latest masterpiece had its European premiere at Tallinn Film Festival last Nov. 15 as part of the Signature section.
The film was produced by Center Stage Productions, and it features Judy Ann Santos and Allen Dizon. It was also part of the programs in the Busan International Film Festival, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, Kolkata International Film Festival, and Cairo International Film Festival.
Mindanao, a 123-minute film has been recently awarded a Grade A by the CEB, is about the struggles of Saima (Santos), wife to military medic (Dizon) and mother to a young girl battling cancer.
Miracle In Cell No. 7
Aga Muhlach is back in the country’s biggest film event with Miracle in Cell No. 7, a local adaptation of the South Korean drama starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Kal So-won, and Park Shin-hye.
Directed by Nuel C. Naval, this official entry to the MMFF 2019 stays faithful to the original plot.
Aga plays a mentally-ill man who is wrongfully charged with sexually assaulting and murdering a little girl who happens to be the daughter of a high-ranking official (Tirso Cruz II). Joselito, the character played by Aga, has a loving daughter named Yesha (Xia Vigor) who is left with nobody now that he is now incarcerated.
Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity
In the action-comedy movie, Vic Sotto and MaineMendoza are joined by an amazing ensemble cast headed by Powkang, Jake Cuenca, Wally Bayola, and Jose Manalo.
Directed by Mike Tuviera and with a script written by Don Santella, Michelle Ngu, and Aloy Adlawan, the movie is described by producers APT Entertainment Inc. and MZET Productions as edge-of-your-seat and high octane heist movie for all ages.
Mission Unstapabot is centered on master straiegisi Don Roberi Foriun (Vic) who assembles a motley crew of experts collectively known as “The Dons,” which consists of magician Zulueta (Pokwang), wrestler Johnson (Jake), car racer Kikong (Jelson Bay), and the mysterious master computer hacker Donna (Maine).
The film is a Ten17P and Globe Studios co-production is described by director Carlo Ledesma as a chilling film that combines the thrill of technology and the mystery of tradition.
Carmina Villarroel with Mylene Dizon, Freddie Webb, Susan Africa, Kate Alejandrino, Krystal Brimner, Rhed Bustamante, and JC Santos complete the cast.
In the film, Carmina plays a single mother named Olivia who accepts a high-paying but demanding job at a call center so she could pay for her sick daughter’s medical expenses. The new office is located in an old building in Manila. As Olivia tries to adjust to the strange environment, she also experiences a series of spooky events.
The Mall, The Merrier
The movie sees the first big-screen team-up of It’sShowtime hosts ViceGanda and Anne Curtis.
Vice Ganda and Anne Curtis are introduced as siblings Moira and Morissette, whose feud over the mall is compounded with the arrival of a third party — their Aunt Moody, played by Dimples Romana.
The film includes some fantasy elements, with headless mannequins, toy robots, and statues coming to life and joining a full-scale war inside the mall.
Write About Love
Kapuso talent Rocco Nacino and Kapamilya actress MilesOcampo are the stars of TBA Studios’ romantic-comedy about characters who are struggling to write a romance film.
In the story, Rocco plays a “veteran” writer who teams up with a newbie (Miles) to create the perfect romantic movie.
Though the film’s main premise revolves around the romance that blossoms between the lead cast, Rocco said that the project is a perfect tribute for writers, the unsung heroes of every story that comes alive on the small and big screens.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.