Asserting television’s dominance on the entertainment industry, the country’s top three TV networks have entries in the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival which opens on Dec. 25.
From the initial 14 entries, the lineup has been narrowed down to eight, including two movies produced/coproduced by Star Cinema, ABS-CBN’s film arm; two by GMA Films; and one by TV5.
With coproducer Viva Films, Star Cinema fielded the comedy “Sisteraka,” top-billed by Kris Aquino and Vice Ganda; and the drama romance “One More Try,” starring Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban, Dingdong Dantes and Zanjoe Marudo.
GMA Films’ entry is the comedy “Conyo Problems,” starring Aljur Abrenica, Solenn Heussaff, Mikael Daez and Isabelle Daza.
With OctoArts, M-Zet, APT and Imus, GMA Films is also one of the companies behind the action-fantasy “Si Agimat, si Enteng Kabisote and Me,” which gathers MMFF crowd-drawers Vic Sotto, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Judy Ann Santos.
TV5 has teamed up with Unitel for the twin-bill fantasy “Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang,” which stars Zsa Zsa Padilla, Richard Gomez, Iza Calzado, Rufa Mae Quinto and Paolo Contis. Media Quest, the company that runs TV5, owns 30 percent of Unitel.
Regal is again offering the horror franchise “Shake, Rattle and Roll 14,” with talents from ABS-CBN and GMA 7: Vhong Navarro, Dennis Trillo, Lovi Poe, Carla Abellana, Paulo Avelino, among others.
Francis Tolentino, chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA, which spearheads the fest), told the Inquirer: “TV networks help create awareness for the film fest, increasing the mass appeal of the movies during a busy time like Christmas.” He conceded that the movie and television industries have become inextricably intertwined.
Two film companies not affiliated with TV studios made it. Scenema Concept, which produced last year’s best film “Asiong Salonga,” entered the historical drama “El Presidente,” with ER Ejercito and Cristine Reyes in the lead. Quantum Films won a slot with the suspense thriller “The Strangers.”
Quantum producer Joji Alonso told the Inquirer that, as with her indie hit “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank,” she is turning to Star Cinema for assistance in promoting and marketing her entry. “Plus, our movie will have ABS-CBN talents Enrique Gil, Enchong Dee and Julia Montes as lead stars.”
Indie filmmakers Brillante Mendoza and Adolfo Alix Jr. were shut out of the race, but Tolentino hopes they will join the New Wave section, a parallel competition of five independently produced films that will have a five-day run before the main event starts on Christmas Day.
The New Wave section also has room for student filmmakers, with short film and Sine-Phone categories. Sine-Phone encourages students to shoot three to five-minute shorts with cell phone cameras.
The criteria in the selection of the eight entries in the main competition, according to official auditor Alba Romeo & Co.: 50 percent commercial viability, 40 percent artistic merit, 10 percent cultural and historical value.