MMFF announces first 4 entries for December event
Since the horror-thriller genre makes up 40 percent of the submitted entries to the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Romando “Don” Artes said the selection of the four remaining finalists will be “a competition on which project has the best effects and execution.”
The MMDA is the overall organizer of the annual MMFF. Based on the festival’s rules, only two films per genre will be allowed to compete in the festival that will run for two weeks starting on Christmas Day.
The first four finalists, chosen based on submitted scripts, were announced during a media conference on Monday afternoon.
“We’ve received a lot of submissions in the horror, suspense and thriller genres from among 26 entries. Since we’ve already chosen four, we will just wait for the finished film submissions to see which of them will really stand out,” Artes told reporters at the gathering held at the new MMDA offices in Ortigas, Pasig City.
The first four MMFF entries are Nuel Naval’s dramatic film “A Mother and Son’s Story,” produced by Cineko Productions, written by Mel Mendoza-del Rosarion, starring Sharon Cuneta and Alden Richards, with Enrico A. Rogue, Patrick F. Menses and Jacky Lim as executive producers; King Palisoc’s horror-thriller “(K)Ampon, produced by Quantum Films, written by Dodo Dayao, starring Beauty Gonzalez and Derek Ramsay, with Josabeth Alonso as executive producer; Jason Paul Laxamana’s action fantasy “Penduko,” produced by Sari Sari Network, starring Cristine Reyes and Matteo Guidicelli, with Jane Basas as executive producer; and Mae Cruz-Alviar’s romantic drama “Rewind,” produced by ABS-CBN Film Productions Inc., written by Enrico Santos, starring Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes, with Carlo L. Katigbak and Kriz Anthony G. Gazmen as executive producers.
Artes reported that actress Boots Anson-Roa, who has led the selection committee in previous years, had to resign because she is part of one entry. Film producer Jesse Ejercito assumed the position this year. “We had to deliberate on the selection twice. It was a difficult task because there are a lot of interesting scripts this year, and most of these film projects are star-studded,” reported Ejercito, who was assisted by film writer Roy Iglesias during the media conference.
“We are not looking for films in specific genres, but we usually try to strike a balance with all the entries each year. We also have a rule that we can only pick two movies per genre. There were times when we overlapped because one film is romance-comedy, while another is just comedy. We don’t have anything under comedy yet. It will depend on what will be submitted and on whether or not they will meet the standards of the selection committee members,” Artes explained.
Noel Ferrer, who serves as MMFF spokesperson, added: “We cater to the broadest market, to each member of the family. That is a major consideration. While we aim to hit all markets through all the different genres, we also want these films to have a degree of excellence.”
Ferrer also said that preparations are underway for the yearlong celebration of the MMFF’s 50th anniversary in 2024. To start the celebration, the MMDA has partnered with American producer Lisa Lew of P & L Media to mount the “international edition” of the 49th MMFF.
Screened in the US
“All eight entries will be screened in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago [in the United States]. They will also have their own awards ceremony with Filipino-American actors in Hollywood as jurors,” Artes said of the festival that is tentatively set on the third week of January. The event will be launched in October during Filipino Heritage Week in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, this year’s edition will be hosted by the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.
Some 700 cinemas participated in the last MMFF edition, and Artes is hoping that cinema operators will be able to open as many theaters as possible this time. He added that the goal is to surpass the previous year’s earnings of P501 million. “The problem before was that a lot of projectors had to be repaired since they weren’t used for two years during the pandemic lockdowns,” he explained.
When asked what lessons could be learned from the recent 1st Summer MMFF, which received a lukewarm response from local moviegoers, Artes said: “The playdate is crucial. We opened on a Black Saturday, when most Filipinos prefer to go to the beach or return to their home provinces. Many had already spent their money on their vacation trips. If we decide to continue the Summer MMFF, we are looking at holding it on May 1. It’s a holiday and people have just received their monthly salaries,” the MMDA chair explained.