Filipino cinema is alive and kicking. Again.
This is the happy assessment over the weeklong Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP), which started on August 16 and ends today, with some of the 12 entries gaining an extended from promising box office returns.
A project of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) headed by chairman Liza Diño, the film festival coincides with the ongoing Buwan ng Wika or [National] Language Month. A number of the entries had already made the rounds of film festivals here and abroad, winning in both acting and technical categories.
On Sunday, FDCP held a thanksgiving fiesta at White Space on Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, and handed out special prizes to the participants.
“Birdshot” by Mikhail Red won the Critic’s Choice Award; “100 Tula Para kay Stella” by Jason Paul Laxamana won the Audience’s Choice Award; and “Patay na si Hesus” by Victor Villanueva won the Jury’s Choice Award.
Had there been acting awards handed out, Odette Khan as judge and terror law professor in “Bar Boys” would surely have been a unanimous choice, viewers observed.
Although the PPP is not as encompassing as the Metro Manila Film Festival, it showed nevertheless that Filipinos have matured in their taste – that movies are movies, whether it’s “indie” or mainstream.
Those backed by major studios – production-wise, casting or promotions like “AWOL” by Enzo Williams with ABS-CBN talent Gerald Anderson in the lead, 100 Tula Para kay Estella with Bela Padilla and JC Santos playing the central characters, and Bar Boys by Kip Oebanda with Carlo Aquino, Kean Cipriano, Rocco Nacino and Enzo Pineda in the cast – were deemed to top the box office, tucking over 100 theaters each.
On opening day, all three performed well, topping the box office receipts. On the third day of the festival, Diño confirmed 100 Tula Para kay Estella was the top grosser.
As the days went on, Patay na si Hesus, even with lesser movie houses assigned to it overtook the other two and emerged as the second top grosser playing full houses everywhere due to word-of-mouth endorsement. It gained 13 additional theaters in SM Cinemas in Batangas, Baguio, Tarlac, San Pablo, Olongapo, Cagayan and Bulacan.
Considered a sleeper hit, Patay na si Hesus stars Cannes Best Actress winner Jaclyn Jose ( “Ma’ Rosa,” 2016) supported by Cebu-based actors. It’s a comedy that strums the tickle strings of Filipinos. “No doubt it’s the LOL [laughing out loud]movie of the year!” movie scribe Mell Navarro said. It was an entry in the Quezon City Film Festival last year.
“We’d like to thank everyone who made the first PPP a success,” Diño said after the thanksgiving and awards night.
Not a few observers say that PPP may actually become the festival of Philippine movie festivals with its strong showing, despite the fact it was held on a rainy month, and when moviegoers do not have bonuses to splurge like they do in December.