Online jeers, more than cheers, continue in reaction to the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) awards given on Thursday night.
The two most pointed posts on Facebook as of Friday night described the best picture citation for Star Cinema’s “One More Try” as “justifying crap with more crap” and “celebrating and rewarding mediocrity.”
Producers did not reply to the Inquirer’s query about observations, also gathered online, comparing the film to an award-winning 2008 Chinese movie.
“One More Try” is about a former couple, now with different partners, who can save the sickly child of their earlier relationship only by having another child. While working on a parallel story line, the Chinese movie, “In Love We Trust,” is seen as a commentary on China’s one-child policy.
Earlier on Thursday, Cinemanila International Film Festival director Amable “Tikoy” Aguiluz posted an “urgent message” on his personal Facebook account calling for action against cinemas pulling out one of the MMFF entries, replacing it with others that were doing better in ticket sales.
“This is a festival and the film (‘Thy Womb’) deserves a full run,” Aguiluz said. He urged “all lovers of Filipino cinema” to march to Meralco Theater in Pasig City, where the awards rites were held, “and demand the movie’s return to the theaters.” No such demonstration was noted on Thursday night.
Three other “slow-moving” entries were said to be replaced with the more popular ones.
“I hope this award will make people more curious about the movie [so] we don’t get pulled out from any more cinemas,” said Brillante Ma. Mendoza, named best director for “Thy Womb.”
The movie, which has won awards for Mendoza and lead actress Nora Aunor in film festivals abroad, is the only entry that did not reach the P1-million mark when the festival opened on Christmas Day. It is reportedly still at the bottom of the box-office rankings at press time.
“Thy Womb” tells the story of a Badjao midwife who, failing to conceive, finds a second wife for her husband. The role won for Aunor the MMFF best actress trophy. In her acceptance speech, the actress said in Filipino: “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, if I have to produce them myself, as long as there are even a few people watching.”
“Thy Womb” bagged the Gatpuno Villegas Memorial and the Most Gender-Sensitive Film awards. It also won best production design for Mendoza; best cinematography for Odyssey Flores; and best story for Henry Burgos.
In a joint statement sent to the Inquirer on Friday, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA, which mounts the festival) chair Francis Tolentino and MMFF executive chair Jesse Ejercito insisted: “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, they said, the decision was “up to the theater owners.” The festival became nationwide more than 10 years ago.
No big winner
“One More Try,” directed by Ruel Bayani, won for Dingdong Dantes his second best festival actor award. Last year, he won for another Star Cinema production, “Segunda Mano.”
The film also won best editing for Vito Kahili and best screenplay for Anna Karenina Ramos, Kriz Gazmen and Jay Fernando. It received the first Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award and Miguel Vergara was named best child performer.
Number-wise, though, it wasn’t the big winner; this distinction went to the Emilio Aguinaldo bio pic “El Presidente,” which ran away with the most awards, starting with second best picture.
Cesar Montano, who plays Andres Bonifacio in the movie, won best supporting actor; Jamir Garcia and apl.de.ap, best theme song; and Jesse Lasaten, best musical score; Albert Idioma, best sound.
“El Presidente” also bagged the best float and Youth Choice awards. Best makeup award was given to Warren Munar, Benny Batoctoy and Virginia Apolinario.
The Wenn Deramas comedy “Sisterakas” was declared third best picture.
For festival watchers confused by the choices, here are the awards criteria from the MMDA: “25 percent for creativity and artistic excellence, innovativeness and global appeal; 25 percent for technical excellence and innovativeness; 25 percent for content; and 25 percent for Filipino, cultural and/or historical value.”
This year’s panel of judges was chaired by Prof. Rowena Capulong-Reyes, dean of Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Among the members were: Felipe de Leon Jr., chair, National Commission for Culture and the Arts; Mutya ng Pilipinas Camille Guevarra; Emmanuel Borlaza, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board vice chair; Joyce Bernal, filmmaker; and Ma. Carmen Syquia Musngi, MTRCB member.
Wilma Doesn’t bagged the best supporting actress award for “Sisteraka,” headlined by Ai-Ai delas Alas, Vice Ganda and Kris Aquino.
The movie is this year’s box-office winner. Its listed earnings on the first festival day (it ends Jan. 8) was P39.1 million, closely followed by Tony Y. Reyes’ “Si Agimat, Si Enteng at Si Ako,” which reportedly made P29.4 million. The fantasy-adventure flick, top-billed by Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla and Vic Sotto, did not win any award.
The Chito Roño horror film “Shake, Rattle and Roll 14: The Invasion” took home one—the best visual effects trophy for Imaginary Friends and Black Burst.
Most Gender Sensitive Film award went to “Thy Womb” in the main competition; Will Fredo’s “In Nomine Matris” in the New Wave (independent films) category; and Roberto Pagotan’s “Manibela” under Shorts.
Alan Paule won New Wave best actor for his performance in Ronaldo Bertubin’s “Gayak”; Liza Diño, New Wave best actress for “In Nomine Matris.”
Named New Wave best director was Tyrone Acierto for his work on “The Grave Bandits,” which was declared best picture in that category. Special Jury Prize went to Armando “Bing” Lao for “Ad Ignorantiam.”
Best shorts were: “Promdi” and “Monthsary” for Luzon; “License to Drive,” Visayas; “Bulgaran sa Daan” and “The Boy the Girl and the Traffic Light,” Mindanao.
(Special prizes were handed out for the first time in the festival’s history: 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.)
Henry Burgos, accepting his best story trophy for “Thy Womb,” said: “I wish to see changes, even just a little, in the way we Filipinos tell our [own] stories. Let’s continue to support movies that aim to teach and enlighten us.”
Later that same night, a frustrated Netizen quipped, “Box-office results show that Filipino moviegoers have not reached that level of maturity.” With Bayani San Diego Jr.