Controversies hounded the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival Awards Night held on Sunday at the Kia Theater in Araneta Center, Quezon City.
One of these was the sudden disqualification of Honor Thy Father from the Best Picture category, which became evident at the awarding ceremony when its director Erik Matti was declared as the festival’s best director.
Representative Shiel Calde of Reality Entertainment, the movie’s production company, read Matti’s charged acceptance speech.
First and foremost, the acclaimed Filipino director stated that he never made films to win awards. His grievances towards MMFF were not about losing the chance to win the Best Picture title.
He said, “Mula sa pagpili niyo ng mga sineng isasali hanggang sa pagkunsinti niyo sa masahol na trato ng mga sinehan sa ibang pelikula, lalo na ng maliliit na producers, para sa isang die-hard movie fan na gaya ko, hindi ko na halos makilala ang film festival na dati kong hinangaan at nirespeto. [From choosing the films that will be part of the festival to tolerate the unjust treatment of cinemas to other films especially those from small producers, as a die-hard movie fan like me, I almost cannot recognize the film festival that I admired and respected before].”
Still, he thanked MMFF for giving Honor Thy Father “free publicity” and more importantly, for finally opening the conversation on how MMFF must improve for the better.
For the Filipino audience, his message was: “You deserve better. Kaya tulungan niyo naman kami [So help us]. Demand for better films! Demand for more choices in the cinemas! Kaya pa natin baguhin ‘to. Hindi ako titigil kung hindi rin kayo titigil [We can still change this. I will not stop if you will not stop].”
Despite all that happened, Honor Thy Father still won other major awards including Best Supporting Actor for Tirso Cruz 3rd and Best Child Performer for Krystal Brimner Best Original Theme Song for “Tao” (performed by Armi Millare), and Best Makeup Artist for Ryan Panaligan and Erika Racela,.
In the end, the coveted Best Picture went to Dan Villegas’ Walang Forever, which was the night’s biggest winner. It bagged the Best Original Story (Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone), Best Screenplay (Paul Sta. Ana) and the FPJ Memorial Award for Film Excellence that came with a cash prize worth P400,000.
Its lead stars Jericho Rosales and Jennylyn Mercado were also named Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively. Mercado was also last year’s MMFF Best Actress.
In a surprise win, rising star Maine Mendoza, who is popularly known as Yaya Dub, was named Best Supporting Actress. My Bebe Love was her debut in the big screen, as well as her first movie with Alden Richards. Together they are the phenomenal AlDub love team.
Hailed as Second Best Picture was Buy Now, Die Later, while My Bebe Love came in as Third Best Picture.
‘Nilalang’ director calls for fair trade
Another person to speak up on the state of the MMFF was director Pedring Lopez of the entry Nilalang.
In an interview with ANC’s Headstart he cried foul for the unfair treatment by revealing that some cinemas were already pulling out his movie on the first day of screening. To the best of his knowledge, Nilalang is currently shown in six cinemas only.
In MMFF ruling, movies are being drawn to determine what titles will be shown in different cinemas.
“We wanted to produce a good film so we raised our budget but now, we’re not sure we can [breakeven]because of lack of support from cinemas,” he said, as relayed by @ANCAlerts on Twitter.
Lopez suggested that all films be screened in cinemas for at least a week for fair trade and that a law be passed to protect independent producers.
Nilalang was also among the biggest winners bagging five awards namely Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Festival Sound and Best Musical Score.
But for Lopez, “Winning awards is good but I can’t use those awards to feed my crew.”
Acknowledging the issue that their co-entry is experiencing, Lopez bluntly said, “Pulling out of Nilalang and disqualification of Honor Thy Father from Best Picture shows MMFF is run by people who are just after box office sales.”
“I am sad about the state of Philippine movie industry. We are competing with Hollywood films, and also issues like these in local industry,” he ended.