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Final 2017 MMFF entries initially vetted

/ 12:30 AM November 26, 2017

Coco Martin in “Ang Panday”

After a testy and turbulent start months ago, the windup to this December’s 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has finally been concluded with the recent announcement of the second batch of our official entries to the yearend fest.

The announcement of the first four (“Ang Panday,” “Gandarrapido, The Avenger Squad,” “Meant to Beh” and “All of You”) was made decidedly controversial by the fact that the fest’s “finished films only” rule last year was tweaked to favor “more commercial” projects vetted in script submission alone.

This time, the last four entries were chosen from completed films, so there’s been less flak and furor surrounding their announcement.

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They are “Ang Larawan,” “Siargao,” “Haunted Forest” and “Deadma Walking.”

At this early stage, we can’t say for sure, but indications are that the period musical-drama, “Ang Larawan,” could romp off with the festival’s best picture plum.

The competition would have been more interestingly tighter if another possible standout entry, Mike de Leon’s “Citizen Jake,” had not been pulled out from consideration by the ace filmmaker to protest the 2017 MMFF’s “diluting” tweaks.

Well, we’ll just have to enjoy and support “Citizen Jake” at other screening venues and occasions of its own choosing.

‘Contrary’ move

Our suggestion is for De Leon to show “Citizen Jake” before the 2017 MMFF, to call greater attention to its “contrary” move and view.

How about it, Mike, even in just some selected theaters for starters?

More preliminary notes on the MMFF’s official entries: “Ang Panday” is a big test for lead actor Coco Martin, because he’s “dared” to also direct the action epic.

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That’s a huge mouthful for a tyro director to masticate, but Coco has taken the big, make-or-break step, and we hope for his sake that he won’t end up with cinematic eggnog on his face.

To strengthen his gung-ho gambit, we hear that he’s been mentored by some veteran megmen, so we trust that helps.

Coco’s leading lady in the film is another first-timer, Mariel de Leon—she has her own thespic test to hurdle, as well.

We hope, again, that Mariel passes muster as a tyro performer—especially in light of her recent no-go showing as the country’s bet in the recently concluded Miss International beauty tilt.

If she does well in “Ang Panday,” it will help make up for her disappointing pageant performance.

Another early standout in our view is “Siargao,” because it stars Jericho Rosales (with Erich Gonzalez).

Jericho’s portrayals have generally been insightful and choice, so he could figure strongly in the festival’s best actor derby.

Finally, the 2017 edition of the MMFF is a more “traditionally” mixed bag of film types and thrusts, with comedy, fantasy and horror appealing to kiddie and family viewers—back to show business as usual.

So were the gains chalked up by last year’s “back to quality basics” festival just a temporary glitch and blip, never to be savored again? Not if some of this year’s “more commercial” entries turn out to also be well-made movies, that don’t dumb down their audience.

The key question is, will there be enough of those productions to make the annual yearend film fiesta worth quality film seekers’ while?

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TAGS: 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Movies
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