MANILA, Philippines–“I hope this award will get more people curious about the movie. This way, we don’t get pulled out of the cinemas,” said Brillante Ma Mendoza, winner of the best director honor for “Thy Womb,” an entry to the ongoing 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
Mendoza was reacting to the decision of a number of theater-owners to pull out his movie due to poor box-office returns. The film, which already won various awards for Mendoza and lead actress Nora Aunor in film festivals abroad, stood last in the box-office rankings and was the only film that failed to reach the P1-million mark when the MMFF opened on Christmas Day.
“Thy Womb,” which tells the story of a Badjao midwife wishing to have a child of her own, also won for Aunor the best festival actress award.
“I always tell people that as a singer, I continue to sing even if only five people are listening, As an actor, I promise to keep making meaningful films, even if I have to produce them myself, as long as there are even a few people watching,” Aunor said in Filipino during her acceptance speech at the awards ceremony held at the Meralco Theater in Pasig City on Thursday night.
“Thy Womb” also bagged the Gatpuno Villegas Memorial and the Most Gender-Sensitive Film awards. It likewise brought home the trophies for best production design for Mendoza, best cinematography for Odyssey Flores and best story for Henry Burgos.
“I wish to see changes, even for just a little, in the way we Filipinos tell our stories,” said Burgos. “Let’s continue to support movies that aim to teach and enlighten us.”
In a statement sent to the Inquirer on Friday, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Francis Tolentino and MMFF executive chair Jesse Ejercito said “the assignment of theaters to the eight official entries (was) done fairly.”
They explained that in Metro Manila, theater assignments were determined by drawing lots. However, in the provinces “it’s up to the theater-owners to decide” which films to show.
The MMDA is the organizer of the annual fete.
Emilio Aguinaldo bioepic film “El Presidente” won the most number of awards that night, starting off with second best picture.
“For me, to be nominated for an award is already a big deal,” said its director Mark Meily. “Everyone knows I wasn’t the first choice to direct and write this project. I’m grateful to those who turned it down, if not for them I wouldn’t be part of this film.”
Cesar Montano, who plays Andres Bonifacio in the movie, copped the best supporting actor trophy. Jamir Garcia and apl.de.ap won the best theme song award while Jesse Lasaten bagged the best musical score honor.
This film likewise bagged the best float and the Youth Choice awards. The best make-up award was bestowed upon Warren Munar, Benny Batoctoy and Virginia Apolinario. The best sound trophy was handed to Albert Michael Idioma.
The Ruel Bayani drama “One More Try” won for Dingdong Dantes his second best festival actor award. Last year, his performance in another Star Cinema production, titled “Segunda Mano,” earned for him the same honor.
The film, which also features Angel Locsin and Angelica Panganiban, was heralded this year’s best picture. It also won the trophies for best editing for Vito Kahili and best screenplay for Anna Karenina Ramos, Kriz Gazmen and Jay Fernando.
“One More Try” was also the recipient of the first Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award. It likewise won for Miguel Vergara the best child performer award.
The Wenn Deramas comedy “Sisterakas” was heralded third best picture this year. Wilma Doesnt bagged the best supporting actress award for her performance in this movie that features Ai-Ai delas Alas, Vice Ganda and Kris Aquino in the lead roles.
“Sisterakas” topped this year’s box-office race, earning P39.1 million on its first screening day. It was closely followed by Tony Y. Reyes’ “Si Agimat, Si Enteng at Si Ako,” which earned P29.4 million. The fantasy-adventure flick failed to win any award this year.
However, the Chito Roño horror film “Shake Rattle and Roll 14: The Invasion” took one home—the best visual effects award for Imaginary Friends and Black Burst.
The Most Gender Sensitive Film award was also given to Will Fredo’s “In Nomine Matris” under the New Wave category and Roberto Pagotan’s “Manibela” under Shorts.
This year’s New Wave best actor is Alan Paule for his performance in Ronaldo Bertubin’s “Gayak,” while Liza Dino was heralded New Wave best actress for “In Nomine Matris.”
The winner of the New Wave best director is Tyrone Acierto for his work on “The Grave Bandits.” The Special Jury Prize was handed to Armando “Bing” Lao for “Ad Ignorantiam.”
The winners of best shorts are “Promdi” and “Monthsary” for Luzon; “License to Drive” for Visayas; “Bulgaran sa Daan” and “The Boy the Girl and the Traffic Light” for Mindanao.
The winners of special prizes are the following: Former president Joseph Estrada and Aunor, Male and Female Stars of the Night; Zanjoe Marudo and Bianca King, SMDC Male and Female Celebrity of the night.
The 2012 MMFF ends on Jan. 8.