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MMFF in Challenging Position With Emphasis on Quality

MMFF mainstays such as 'Enteng Kabisote' are a thing of the past as organizers emphasize more on quality than commercial success in this year's filmfest. (Photo credit: Cebu Daily News)

Without blockbuster franchises and stars such as Vic Sotto’s ‘Enteng Kabisote’ series, the new-look MMFF faces an uphill battle this year. (Photo credit: Cebu Daily News)

This is a From the Tube special report. The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not reflect those of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

This year’s Metro Manila Film Festival will be a different experience for moviegoers and viewers alike.

Gone are the top drawers, big-spending production outfits and movie franchises that made the MMFF an annual Christmas tradition. Instead, the eight official full-length films will feature mostly independent productions, some of which were previously screened in other film festivals around the world.

The eight entries are:

  • Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough – directed by Marlon Rivera; stars Eugene Domingo, Jericho Rosales, Kean Cipriano, Khalil Ramos, and Cai Cortez
  • Die Beautiful – directed by Jun Robles Lana; stars Paolo Ballesteros, Joel Torre, Gladys Reyes, Luis Alandy, Albie Casiño, and Iza Calzado
  • Kabisera – directed by Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido; stars Ms. Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Luis Alandy, Jason Abalos, and RJ Agustin
  • Oro – directed by Alvin Yapan; stars Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, and Joem Bascon
  • Saving Sally – directed by Avid Liongoren; stars Rhian Ramos, and Enzo Marcos
  • Seklusyon – directed by Erik Matti; stars Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman, and JR Versales
  • Sunday Beauty Queen – directed by Babyruth Villarama Gutierrez; stars Hazel Perdido, Cherrie Mae Bretana, Mylyn Jacobo, Leo Selomenio, and Rudelyn Acosta
  • Vince & Kath & James – directed by Ted Boborol; stars Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, and Ronnie Alonte

The selections were based on the following criteria: story, audience appeal and overall impact (40%); cinematic attributes or technical expertise (40%); global appeal (10%); and Filipino sensibility (10%). In essence, the MMFF organizers wanted to feature a greater emphasis on quality rather than commercialism alone.

Even though the change in approach is crucial in providing a more even playing field, promoting these films could pose a challenge. Many of the films were produced by independent companies, while a majority of them feature second or third-tier actors, some of whom are relative unknowns.

Let’s face it, while Eugene Domingo has box-office potential (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’ raked in millions during its initial run), she is no Vic Sotto or Vice Ganda. And while Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia are not a bad tandem, they are no AlDub or KathNiel in the appeal department.

The major television networks such as ABS-CBN and GMA, once major players in the MMFF, are in a similar predicament. In previous years, both played a big role in the success of MMFF entries, but with this year’s field, they may not be a factor at all.

This does not mean that all eight films are bad, however. They are still worth watching as far as moviegoers go, but it will be up to them to become seriously interested with these entries.

Come Christmas Day, all eyes will be on the eight Metro Manila Film Festival entries. Still, it remains to be seen if this year’s filmfest will be a blockbuster or a flop.

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The Weekend Shuffle on ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5

The return of ABS-CBN’s ‘The Buzz’ last Sunday left Toni Gonzaga (left) with four programs on the same day. As a result of the over-exposure, Toni’s sitcom ‘Home Sweetie Home’ was moved to Saturday nights.

Just in time for the homestretch of summer, the ‘Big Three’ networks made noticeable changes in their weekend lineup. But while GMA and TV5 made a few tweaks, ABS-CBN decided to clean house and revamp theirs.

Last Sunday, ‘The Buzz’ made a grand return to ABS-CBN. However, one of the program’s hosts, Toni Gonzaga, had three other shows on Sundays; namely ‘ASAP’, ‘Home Sweetie Home’, and ‘Pinoy Big Brother: All In’.

The addition of ‘The Buzz’ proved to be a case of overexposure for the host, and as a result, ABS-CBN decided to move one of her shows to another day. And ‘Home Sweetie Home’ proved to be the odd one out. However, another of ABS-CBN’s programs needed to move as well.

‘Home Sweetie Home’ was moved to Saturday nights, while ‘Wansapanatym’ was moved to Sunday nights. This is a homecoming of sorts for the latter, as it used to air on Sundays during its initial run in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Meanwhile, instead of facing Michael V’s highly-rated ‘Pepito Manaloto’, ‘Home Sweetie Home’ will now have to compete against Vic Sotto’s ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’ in its new timeslot.

On Saturday afternoons, both ‘Failon Ngayon’ and ‘SOCO: Scene of the Crime Operatives’ exchanged timeslots, with the former now airing at 4:00 p.m., and the latter at 4:45 p.m. Also in a few weeks’ time, ABS-CBN will bring back the legal drama series ‘Kapag May Katwiran, Ipaglaban Mo!’, which is expected to be placed on the timeslot preceding ‘Failon Ngayon’. And finally, ‘The Voice Kids’ debuted last night, and will air every weekend thereafter.

Over at GMA, the network started to air classic films via the ‘Kapuso Sine Klasika’ block. Like the old QTV program ‘Ginintuang Telon’, the movie block showcases films made during the 1950s and 1960s. It was placed in the early Sunday morning slot opposite religious programs such as the live Sunday TV Mass.

Meanwhile, GMA also decided to end its broadcast of Dr. Charles Stanley’s ‘In Touch Ministries’ after a six-year run, effective last April. This leaves ‘Jesus the Healer’ of the Jesus is Lord Movement as the network’s sole religious program on Sundays.

And over at TV5, Jasmine Curtis-Smith’s self-titled drama and suspense program will premiere next Sunday. ‘JasMINE’ is a series that revolves around Curtis and her rise to fame being threatened by a stalker named ‘Mascara’, whose role is to make things miserable for the young actress. The series was supposed to premiere in March, but due to the network’s decision to shorten the ongoing PBA season, its premiere was delayed for three months.

In addition to Curtis, Vin Abrenica, Matt Padilla, Carlo Orosa, Gerard Sison, Marvelous Alejo, Nicole Estrada, Cai Cortez, and Alwyn Uytingco will also play key roles in the series. ‘JasMINE’ the series is scheduled to premiere after ‘Wow Mali Pa Rin’ this June 1.

To all the parties involved, good luck in trying to keep viewers happy with these programs.

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