The Metro Manila Film Festival’s Christmas of compassion

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coverFILIPINOS are truly one of the strongest and happiest people in the world, and no natural calamity or political crisis can—or will—ever stop them from celebrating Christmas.

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In this same inextinguishable spirit, the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, which has been part of the Filipino’s Christmas since 1975, will keep its tradition of entertaining young and old in a very special way.

“Sa Metro Manila Film Festival, ang ating pong ipagdiriwang, ang ating pong isasalamin, ay hindi lamang ang estado ng industriya ng Pelikulang Pilipino kundi po ang kultura ng ating bayan at mga kababayan sa pagiging mahabagin. [What the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will celebrate and reflect this year is not only the status of the Philippine Film Industry but also the culture of our land and our people of being compassionate],” declared Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.

Tolentino’s words were delivered in the continuing aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda that ravaged Eastern Visayas in November and left thousands of Filipinos in a heartbreaking state.

In a press conference on December 12 at City Best Restaurant in Quezon City, the MMDA chairman further announced that the MMFF, through its executive committee had donated P500,000 in seed money to Yolanda victims and survivors way before the upcoming festival opening.

“Ito po ang pinapakita ng Metro Manila Film Festival, ang pagtulong sa kapwa [This is what the Metro Manila Film Festival wants to show—to help our fellowmen],” Tolentino added.

Besides the cash donations, however, what the chairman believes is more important are the films that will showcase the Filipino spirit during these trying times.

Now on its 39th year, the eight official entries of the MMFF are comprised of 10,000 Hours; Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir; Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy; Pagpag: Siyam Na Buhay; Kimmy Dora 3: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel; My Little Bossings, Boy Golden: The Arturo Porcuna Story, and Kaleidoscope World.

“We are calling on the public to support the MMFF. We have provided quality Filipino films that will surely entertain and touch your hearts this Christmas season,” Tolentino invited.

The 39th MMFF officially opens on December 25 at cinemas nationwide. The annual Parade of Stars will take place on December 22 from the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, and will make its way to the Quirino Granstand in Manila. The yearly movie festival will culminate with the Awards Night on December 27 at the Meralco Theater in Pasig City.

Unifying the film industry
For veteran actress Boots Anson Roa, who sits as a member of the executive committee, the MMFF 2013 will “marry” the mainstream and independent film industries.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine at the same press conference, Roa shared, “We have a good combination of films. Among them are three indie films. This is a good indication that we are on the road of marrying mainstream and indie. Hopefully, in the years to come, there will no longer be a difference between one and the other.”

Of the official eight entries, 10,000 Hours by Joyce Bernal; Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir by Francis Villacorta; and Kaleidoscope World by Eliza Cornejo and Gorio Vicuna are produced independently.

Meanwhile, the yearly entries of big production outfits that complete the list are My Little Bossings, Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy, Kimmy Dora, Ang Kiyemeng Prequel, Boy Golden, and Pagpag.

The 68-year-old actress also explained the importance of welcoming independent films in the festival. “It’s a road towards unifying the industry for one. It’s also way of giving importance to a burgeoning sector of the industry. And lastly, it’s a way of providing income to [independent]actors and actresses—if there are many projects, then there are many opportunities,” she enumerated.

Roa pointed out that in the festival’s much-anticipated New Wave Category, which solely dedicated to independent features, names of several mainstream directors and actors are very recognizable. “There is now a ‘crossover’ happening between the two sectors of the film industry,” she enthused.

This year’s New Wave entries comprise of Mga Anino ng Kahapon, Dukit, Maestra, Saka Saka and Island Dreams.

What exactly is there to see come Christmas Day—the movies, be they mainstream or independently produced—make up today’s cover story for The Sunday Times Magazine.

The following is our annual guide to the Metro Manila Film Festival.  Merry Christmas to one and all!

Robin Padilla portrays the role of policeman-turned-senator Gabriel Alcaraz

Robin Padilla portrays the role of policeman-turned-senator Gabriel Alcaraz

‘10,000 HOURS’
Genre: Action, Drama

Cast: Robin Padilla, Alden Richards, Joem Bascon, Mylene Dizon, Pen Medina, Michael de Mesa, Bobby Andrews, Bela Padilla and Bibeth Orteza
Director: Joyce Bernal
Producer: N2 Productions, Philippine Film Studios Inc. and Viva Films

Inspired by true events, 10,000 Hours is a socio-political film about the life of Gabriel Molino Alcaraz, an upright man who has lived his life by the law and for the law.

In his early career, Alcaraz serves only for the truth so that evildoers pay for their crimes. But in return, he makes an enemy in a corrupt general who runs a kidnap syndicate. Ten years later, this general becomes a temporary nightmare in Alcaraz’ family life. In order to defend his loved ones, Alcaraz is forced to kill him. Only, this past will return to haunt him.

Mylene Dizon  as Gabriel’s wife

Mylene Dizon as Gabriel’s wife

The tale continues with Alcaraz running from the very law he swore to uphold and protect. He hides in Amsterdam in search of someone who can prove his innocence. Only 10,000 hours will tell if he could ever return to his beloved country.

Heavy on conspiracies and dark secrets, the action-drama is inspired by true events in the life of former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson. But more than a simple tale of a humble and dedicated police officer who rises to become a senator, 10,000 Hours delves into more important issues and truths.

Playing the role of the senator is action star Robin Padilla, who, according to director Joyce Bernal “is at his best” in the film. She made sure that the actor looked and sounded every inch like the dignified public servant he is portraying on the screen for the first time.

To achieve this, Padilla admitted that he met personally with Sen. Lacson. He recalled, “Nag-usap kami. Nagpunta ako sa kanya sa Senado at nagkwentuhan kami.”

But Padilla was quick to deny that the film is propaganda of sorts. He declared, “Nakiraan ako sa kanya dahil may pelikula akong ginagawa sa buhay niya. ‘Mahal na senador, hindi ko po ito ginagawa para siraan kayo.’”

The film also features Mylene Dizon who plays the lead’s wife Ana Alcaraz, while Alden Richards is cast young Gabriel Alcaraz. The supporting actors comprise of Cholo Barretto, Markki Stroem, Wynwyn Marquez, Jerould Aceron, Bela Padilla, Ketchup Eusebio, Carla Humphries, Michael De Mesa, Pen Medina, Dennis Marasigan, Joem Bascon, Ping Medina, Alchris Galura and Antonio Aquitania.

Gov. ER Ejercito, together with KC Concepcion, offers an action-packed film this holidays

Gov. ER Ejercito, together with KC Concepcion, offers an action-packed film this holidays

‘BOY GOLDEN’
Genre: Action Thriller
Cast: ER Ejercito, KC Concepcion, Eddie Garcia, John Estrada, Tonton Gutierrez and Joem Bascon
Director: Chito Rono
Producer: Scenema Concepts and Viva Films

From Asiong Salonga to El Presidente, Governor ER Ejercito of Laguna is back at the Metro Manila Film Festival, this time as Boy Golden.

In his third consecutive MMFF film as actor-producer, Ejercito plays the role of notorious Manila gangster Arturo Porcuna, a.k.a. Boy Golden. Starring alongside the actor-politician as his sexy leading lady is KC Concepcion.

Directed by Chito Rono, Boy Golden: The Arturo Porcuna Story takes Filipinos back to the 1960s where Boy Golden ruled the street of old Manila.

Also featured in the film is veteran actor Eddie Garcia, together with John Estrada, Tonton Gutierrez and Joem Bascon.

Previously excluded at the festival “due to excessive violence,” which was admitted and addressed by Ejercito, the film managed to become an official entry to the MMFF once more after Sen. Bong Revilla withdrew his film My Super Kap in October.

While the violence has been toned down, leading lady KC guarantees that the fight scenes are very exciting and thrilling. “Pati po ako napasabak, and dahil si Direk Chito po ang gumawa ng pelikulang ito, masisigurado ko po sa inyo ang kalidad niya,” she ensured.

As the entertainment press continues to drum up a kissing scene in the movie between herself and Ejercito, KC insisted, “Hindi naman po ganon karami ang tender scenes namin ni Gov. dahil mas marami po talaga ang action sa pelikulang ito.”

The complete cast led by Vice Ganda

The complete cast led by Vice Ganda

‘GIRL BOY BAKLA TOMBOY’
Genre: Comedy

Cast: Vice Ganda, Maricel Soriano, Joey Marquez, Ruffa Guttierez, Cristine Reyes, Ejay Falcon, JC De Vera, Kiray Celis, JM “Cho” Ibanez, Red Bustamante and Xyriel Manabat
Director: Wenn Deramas
Producer: Star Cinema and Viva Films

The winning tandem of Vice Ganda

and box-office director Wenn Deramas reunites in this year’s Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy, a comedic entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy is a wacky yet heartwarming movie about four siblings who are all in search for love, family and acceptance. In his most challenging movie to date, Vice Ganda plays all the quadruple roles.

The movie revolves around the story of quadruplets who were separated from each other when they were babies. Two of the siblings, Team Girl-Boy, flew to the States with their father while the other two, Team Bakla-Tomboy, were left behind in the care of their mother.

Conflict begins when the siblings based in the States discover that the boy is afflicted with a liver disease and must undergo a transplant. The US-based team soon discover that they have two other siblings in the Philippines whose liver could be a match to the boy’s. The situation forces them to come home and reconnect with their long lost family.

For the very first time Team Girl-Boy and Team Bakla-Tomboy meet, unleashing a series of riotous and hilarious events that may or may not unite their broken families together.

“I’m so happy to be part of the MMFF once again,” said Vice of his return to the festival. “Moviegoers can look forward to a different kind of family movie this December. With all the many problems that we faced in the past months it would be great to just relax and have in fun the cinemas with us.”

Direk Wenn on the other hand explains that the movie is first and foremost a family movie with a heart. “It’s a given that audiences can expect non-stop laughter from Vice and our cast but at the very core of the movie is our message that Christmas is truly the best time for every family to forget their differences and be together as one,” he expressed.

It should also be noted that the film features the very first film collaboration between Vice and Diamond Star Maricel Soriano whom he considers as one of his idols in the industry.

Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy also stars Joey Marquez, Ruffa Guttierez, Cristine Reyes, Ejay Falcon, JC De Vera, Kiray Celis, JM “Cho” Ibanez, Red Bustamante and Xyriel Manabat.

Sam Milby is Eugene Domingo’s newest leading man

Sam Milby is Eugene Domingo’s newest leading man

‘KIMMY DORA, ANG KIYEMENG PREQUEL’
Genre: Comedy, Action

Cast: Eugene Domingo, Sam Milby, Angel Aquino, Joel Torre
Director: Chris Martinez
Producer: Spring Films, MJM Productions and Quantum Films

In 2009, the eloquent and adamant Kimmy and the very naive yet sweet Dora delighted everyone with a hilarious and family-oriented blockbuster in Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kiyeme. The exciting dual roles were portrayed by award-winning versatile actress Eugene Domingo.

This year, the comedic twin heiresses make a comeback and are ready to conquer the big screen once more. Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel tackles fresh-grads Kimmy and Dora’s internship to pursue their family’s chain of businesses in the future. The summa cum laude Kimmy starts to possess the makings of a strong leader, while Dora keeps it modest and relates to the employees of the company.

Kimmy and Dora’s rigorous internship will be spearheaded by the handsome and sexy human resources head, Rodin Bartolleti, played by top leading man Sam Milby. Winning Rodin’s heart serves as one of the biggest challenges for twins.

The prequel also stars some of the country’s biggest actors like Joel Torre, Angel Aquino, Moi Bien and Ariel Ureta.

Domingo considers Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel as the most challenging in the series. She explains, “This is really challenging. Since this is a prequel, everything has to step back—from twin’s ways and how they think. I’ve also discovered that I enjoy doing fight scenes over love scenes! I would have to say that Sam’s kiss is the best so far in all of my movies. And that wasn’t on lips.”

Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel is Spring Film’s official entry to MMFF 2013. It is directed by Chris Martinez and co-produced by Quantum Films and MJM Productions.

Loveteam Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo together in big screen

Loveteam Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo together in big screen

‘PAGPAG, SIYAM NA BUHAY’
Genre: Horror, Suspense, Romance
Cast:  Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo, Shaina Magdayao and Paulo Avelino
Director: Frasco Mortiz
Producer: Star Cinema and Regal Films

The iconic Shake, Rattle and Roll franchise will not be part of MMFF 2013, and the question is whether the festival be the same without the horror movie, which has brought suspense and thrill to Filipino moviegoers for the past decade and a half.

The answer is, there will still be thrills and suspense in the MMFF, with the co-production of Regal Films and Star Cinema, titled Pagpag, Siyam Na Buhay. The entry is the only one in its genre for the 39th MMFF.

The film is directed by Frasco Santos Mortiz who is a first-timer in the festival.  Though young, his previous credits include some of Star Cinema’s top-grossing films namely The Reunion and 24/7 In Love, as well as ABS-CBN’s top-rating kiddie gag show Goin’ Bulilit.

Pagpag is inspired by the ancient Filipino tradition that is anchored on the superstitious belief that one should not go home straight from visiting a wake.  According to elders, doing so will risk bringing home evil spirits.

The film’s subtitle, “Siyam Na Buhay,” meanwhile represents nine prevalent Filipino superstitious beliefs that are associated with deaths and funerals, which are still observed by many to this very day. It is said and widely believed that once broken, sinister deaths representing each of the nine beliefs await anyone who violates and disrespects the ancient practices.

sIn Pagpag, terrifying horrors are unleashed as Cedric (Daniel Padilla) and his friends accidentally visit a funeral that is set up by Leni (Kathryn Bernardo). Every member of the group unwittingly breaks one superstitious belief after another, including the dreaded pagpag. Unbeknownst to Cedric and Lenie, they had brought home with them a malevolent and vengeful spirit.

Besides the spine-chilling scenes that Pagpag promises, fans and the entire family can also look forward to a touch of humor and romance from Daniel and Kathryn, as well as from the characters portrayed by Paulo Avelino and Shaina Magdayao, who are paired for the very first time in the silver screen.

“Pagpag is definitely a super scary movie but behind its gripping story is the universal message that love and sacrifice for family truly conquers all,” said Daniel Padilla.

For her part, Kathryn Bernardo shared, “The movie tackles the age-old conflict of good versus evil and it’s so exciting to witness the journey of our characters and see whether or not we will overcome the evil that our characters will face.”

n Vic Sotto with his little bossings Ryzza Mae Dizon and James ‘Bimby’ Aquino Yap

n Vic Sotto with his little bossings Ryzza Mae Dizon and James ‘Bimby’ Aquino Yap

‘MY LITTLE BOSSINGS’
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Vic Sotto, Ryzza Mae Dizon, James “Bimby” Aquino-Yap, Aiza Seguerra and Kris Aquino
Director: Marlon Rivera

Producer: OctoArts Films, MZET, APT Entertainment and Kris Aquino Productions

Starring box-office superstars Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino, along with the cute tandem of Ryzza Mae Dizon and James “Bimby” Aquino Yap, My Little Bossings is predicted to be one of box-office hits this MMFF 2013.

And the producers behind the movie—OctoArts Films, M-Zet Films, APT Entertainment and Kris Aquino Productions—promise a heartwarming movie for the public, sharing lessons in life for both the young and old. Above all, humor, wit and laughter will explode on screen from beginning to end.

Most notable in the film is the extraordinary chemistry that Ryzza Mae and Bimby struck when they started working together. Director Marlon Rivera saw this right off the bat, with the cast, staff and crew working with the two kids as witnesses.  Yes, the very down-to-earth Ryzza Mae and the “socially elite” Bimby do get along.

Sotto observes, “Nakakatuwa talaga yung dalawang bata [The two kids are very amusing]. They complement each other so well. You can see that when you watch the movie. Nagtuturuan, nagtatawanan, sabay napapagod, sabay nagugutom. Masaya lang kami sa set. [They teach other, laugh together, feel tired and hungry at the same time. We’re just happy at the set].”

Sotto plays the role Torky Villanueva who works as a bookkeeper for the millionaire cash management specialist Baba Atienza (Kris). Because of conflicts in her business, Baba entrusts her son Justin (Bimby) to Torky’s care for fear of their lives.

In the meantime, Torky’s niece Ice (Aiza Seguerra) who lives in the same house as him is involved in an advocacy for street children, and brings home street kid Ching (Ryzza Mae) to become her ward. Ching comes from an orphanage that just closed down. The fun begins when this unlikely “family” starts living under one roof, each of them dealing with personal dilemmas.

My Little Bossings also stars Aiza Seguerra, Jaclyn Jose, Jose Manalo, Paolo Ballesteros, Barbie Forteza, Neil Coleta, and Neil Sese from the direction of Marlon Rivera, and a story and screenplay by Bibeth Orteza.

 

Veteran actors Ariel Ureta and Angel Aquino

Veteran actors Ariel Ureta and Angel Aquino

‘KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD’
Genre: Romance, Musical

Cast: Sef Cadayona, Yassi Pressman, Elmo Magalona, Alma Concepcion and Pia Pilapil
Director: Eliza Cornejo and Gorio Vicuna
Producer: iAct Productions and MediaKom

iAct Productions, in cooperation with MediaKom proudly presents Kaleidoscope World, the Philippines’ first hip-hop dance musical film to be shown at the Metro Manila Film Festival. An independent film inspired by the music of the late master rapper Francis Magalona, it is also the last official entry to make it to MMFF 2013.

Top-billed by young GMA 7 stars Sef Cadayona and Yassi Pressman, Kaleidoscope World is a love story between Lando (Cadayona), a poor boy and Elsa (Pressman), a rich girl. The two meet in an open audition for the top local hip-hop crew that is competing for an international dance event. Lando and Elsa make it to the team but as their life and love unfold their dance crumbles.

The film also stars Alma Concepcion, Mayton Eugenio, Alireza Libre, Pia Pilapil, Brylle Mondejar, Arnold Reyes, and William Angeles. Introducing Guibo Codog, Michelle Cornejo and Jason Zimmerman.

The film is set to present a colorful “kaleidoscopic” world of hip-hop dance with plenty of rapping, graffiti art, and DJ mixing. Expect to see various dance crews like the The Philippine All Stars and Manoeuvres, among others; performers JayR, Johnoy Danao, Marc Abaya, 6 Cyclemind and more.

The film also includes the special participation of the Magalona children, with Elmo figuring prominently as he follows his late father’s footsteps as a rapper.

Kaleidoscope World is written by Jane Frances and directed by Gorio Vicuna and Eliza Cornejo.

Pedro-Calungsod-2

Pedro Calungsod and Padre Diego San Vitores in their mission to spread Catholicism

‘PEDRO CALUNGSOD,
BATANG MARTIR’
Genre: Biography, Epic
Cast:  Rocco Nacino, Christian Vasquez, Jestoni Alarcon, Robert Correa, Ryan Eigenmann, Victor Basa and Johan Santos

Director: Francis Villacorta
Producer: HPI Synergy Group and Wings Entertainment

Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir is a historical-dramatic-adventure film of the new Filipino Saint, Pedro Calungsod, who was canonized at the Vatican in Rome, Italy in October 2012.

The subject of the film—while following the story of San Pedro Calungsod—embraces the historical roots of the “San Diego Mission,” led by Padre Diego San Vitores, who was martyred in 1672 together with the Filipino saint.

“It is through Pedro Calungsod’s involvement in the San Diego Mission where I based his story in the film,” said writer-director Francis Villacorta. “Young people today can learn a lot from the heroic life of San Pedro Calungsod. Ordinary as he was, being a young catechist and mission assistant, the dedication to his work and his devotion to God is all too inspiring.”

Young GMA Network actor Rocco Nacino was chosen to portray San Pedro Calungsod; Christian Vazquez plays the role of Padre Diego de San Vitores.

In “becoming” San Pedro Calungsod, Nacino told The Sunday Times Magazine, “The experience of learning from him, through the portrayal of his character, renewed my faith in God.”

The film also stars Robert Correa, Ryan Eigenmann, Jestoni Alarcon, Victor Basa and Mercedes Cabral, among others.

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