6 entries make final cut for year-end MMFF | Inquirer Entertainment

6 entries make final cut for year-end MMFF

/ 12:10 AM October 20, 2023

6 entries make final cut for year-end MMFF

Piolo Pascual in “Mallari” —MENTORQUE/FACEBOOK

(First of two parts)

The films that placed fourth, fifth and sixth during the deliberation for the final lineup of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) all got the same score, prompting the festival selection committee to include two more movies in what used to be an event with eight entries.


This was according to film producer Jesse Ejercito, who heads this year’s selection committee. “They’re all quality films. We didn’t have the heart to just base the decision on drawing lots. The suggestion to make it a 10-film lineup was actually from a member who operates cinemas. We decided to give a chance to all of them. We also want to see what the effect of this change will be. Actually, the MMFF used to have 10 competing films in the beginning, and not eight,” Ejercito told Inquirer Entertainment on Tuesday afternoon in a gathering held at the new office of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in Ortigas.


MMDA is the organizer of the annual film event.

6 entries make final cut for year-end MMFF

Vilma Santos stars in “When I Met You In Tokyo” —VILMA SANTOS/INSTAGRAM

The following are the final six entries: Jun Robles Lana’s “Becky and Badette,” starring Eugene Domingo and Pokwang; Derick Cabrido’s “Mallari,” starring Piolo Pascual and Janella Salvador; Zig Dulay’s “Firefly,” starring Alessandra de Rossi and Euwenn Mikaell; Lem Lorca’s “Broken Heart’s Trip,” starring Christian Bables; and Pepe Dikono’s “GomBurza,” starring Dante Rivero, Cedrick Juan and Enchong Dee; and Conrado Peru and Rommel Peneza’s “When I Met You In Tokyo,” starring Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon. The first four entries announced in July are: Nuel Naval’s “A Family of 2,” starring Sharon Cuneta and Alden Richards; King Palisoc’s “(K)ampon,” starring Derek Ramsay and Beauty Gonzalez; Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Penduko” starring Matteo Guidicelli; and Mae Cruz-Alviar’s “Rewind,” starring Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes.

Ejercito said the 10 films were chosen from 30 applicants. “This year was the toughest for us. It was hard to get only four. We don’t just pick entries based on artistic merit. We have criteria to base our decisions on,” he said, referring to the fact that only two films per genre are allowed, and that an actor cannot play lead in more than one entry.

“The film’s commercial value is also considered,” Ejercito added. “Last year, it was a horror movie that did well. This explains why we received eight horror entries this year. Also, there was hardly any submission in the fantasy genre.”

‘Happy problem’

6 entries make final cut for year-end MMFF

MMDA Chair Romando Artes (left) and MMFF selection committee chair Jesse Ejercito —MARINEL CRUZ

For MMDA Chair Romando Artes, what they had was a “happy problem. We know that we made the right decision to add two more in the lineup because they’re all good films. You can tell just by looking at their trailers and the cast of each project.”

Artes is hoping that cinema operators will show support by lowering ticket prices. “We will discuss this with theater owners and producers. We will encourage them to listen to the sentiments of moviegoers,” he added.


MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer described the inclusion of two more films in the lineup as “a win-win situation.”

“From the producers’ point of view, their films are given a premium when they become part of the MMFF. They can sell their films to streaming platforms at a better price,” he said.

In fact, Artes reported that prior to being shown at the MMFF, one of last year’s Top 3 entries was only priced at $20,000. After its MMFF run, it was sold at $100,000.

More, better choices

“From the audience’s perspective, they are offered more and better choices. If we can spend so much on Taylor Swift concert tickets, then we know that there’s a market for entertainment projects. We know that if people like good content, they’re willing to spend for it,” said Ferrer.

Meanwhile, Santos admitted that her movie with De Leon, who also served as its associate director, wasn’t originally intended for the MMFF. “We had an initial playdate in September, but we decided not to push through because it’s considered the rainy season. I prayed hard for the film to get included so you can just imagine the anxiety I went through, especially when I found out that 30 films were submitted for the final four slots,” she began. “There were so many good films to choose from this year. I can’t comment much because I didn’t see all the submissions. I’m just thankful that ours got included. It means it’s really worth watching.”

She added: “This is really a team effort. Boyet (De Leon’s nickname) and I made sure to have a say on all of our scenes in the movie. That’s how involved we were in this project. We wanted to make sure that all the scenes were appropriate for our age. We didn’t want the story to be heavy drama, as well, because we feel that it’s supposed to be a feel-good movie.”

6 entries make final cut for year-end MMFF

Alessandra de Rossi stars in Zig Dulay’s “Firefly”—ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI/INSTAGRAM

With “Firefly” being included in the lineup, De Rossi said this meant she would have to ride the float and promote the film during Christmastime. “This came as a shock to me, but I’m happy for my friend Zig. His films deserve to be seen in cinemas,” she told Inquirer Entertainment. “Now that there are 10 films in the lineup, all I can say is, ‘The more the merrier.’ Viewers will have more choices. The good thing about ‘Firefly’ is that it’s a film for all ages.”

She continued: “While doing this, I had to focus on the emotions my character was supposed to express. And we know that mother roles require pure heart. That’s where the drama is. It’s about a mom and her son. It’s about how the strongest of love is able to conquer the biggest of fears.”

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(To be concluded tomorrow)

TAGS: Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)

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