The year is about to close, and the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is just around the corner. The highly anticipated annual movie festival in the country, which kick-starts 25 December every year and ends in the first week of January of the New Year, has become part of the Filipino culture and holiday tradition. And as early as this month, the MMFF has released the titles of the full-length films that made it to the festival’s “Magic 8.”
It is recalled that four months ago, in June, the festival’s Executive Committee teased the masses with an announcement of the first four full-length films that made it to the list, and it is a foreshadowing of this year’s MMFF vibe. The films are downright, safely mainstream — a mix of genre favorites to please all types of Pinoy moviegoer, and starring the most bankable stars in the local mainstream industry.
Last 9 October at the Club Filipino in San Juan, the Executive Committee, after an hour’s delay due to a lengthy deliberation, revealed the “Magic 8,” or the final full list of the eight finalists in this year’s MMFF.
Viva Film’s Aurora, a horror-thriller starring Anne Curtis, is one of the lucky 8. In the film, Curtis plays an islander named Leana whose relatively peaceful existence on the island is disrupted when a ship named Aurora crashes nearby. The film is helmed by horror-director Yam Laranas, known for horror films The Road (2011), Patient X (2009) and Sigaw (2004), among others.
Fans of Vice Ganda will delight that their favorite MMFF-mainstay comedian will once again grace the screens this holiday season. This time, Vice will star in fantasy-comedy Fantastica: The Princesses, The Prince and The Perya, along with Bela Padilla, Dingdong Dantes and Richard Gutierrez. The film was produced by Star Cinema and Viva Films and directed by Barry Gonzales.
Also selected among the Magic 8 is Rainbow Sunset, about a man (Eddie Garcia) coming out as gay in his twilight years. This LGBT-friendly film is produced by Likhang Silang Entertainment, and also stars Tony Mabesa, Gloria Romero and Sunshine Dizon. The drama is directed by the veteran Joel Lamangan.
For the hopeless romantic, the romantic-drama One Great Love is perhaps your cup of tea. Regal Films brings to the screen Dennis Trillo, Kim Chiu and JC de Vera in a dramatic story about finding true love — the kind that happens once in a lifetime. This is the first time that we will see Trillo and Chiu star together in a movie, which is directed by Eric Quizon.
Another love story that made it to the list is Mary, Marry Me, produced by TEN170, the studio that brought us last year’s MMFF Second Best Picture Siargao. The romantic-comedy stars the Gonzaga siblings, Toni and Alex, playing sisters Mary Jane and Mary Anne, who are fighting over one guy, played by Sam Milby.
A horror film entry is Otlum, from a fairly small and new production house Horseshoe Productions. Director Joven Tan revealed that Otlum is a “Christmas movie treat” for the family, and it stars Ricci Rivero and Jerome Ponce.
To spice up the line-up is the Girl in the Orange Dress, a sexy romantic-drama starring Jericho Rosales, Jessy Mendiola and Tom Rodriguez. Produced by Quantum and MJM Films, and directed by Jay Abello, the film got a little bit of a negative reaction when, in July, Rosales posted a black-and-white teaser photo from the movie on Instagram, with his fans questioning Mendiola’s involvement. One netizen said: “Malamang ito lang and di ko papanuoring movie mo @jerichorosalesofficial i don’t like Jessy im sorry.” The actor defended Mendiola against her online bashers.
Vic Sotto fans will be relieved that the long-time comedian also has an entry in the 44th MMFF in a comedy titled Popoy En Jack: The Pulisincredibles, where he stars alongside A-lister Coco Martin. Directed by Rodel Nacianceno, the movie was produced by MZet, APT and CCM Productions.
MMFF short films
Like in the previous years, MMFF will also showcase eight short films, which will be paired with the eight full-length films. For every screening, one short film will precede one full-length entry.
Sixteen short films were announced as semi-finalists, besting 123 student short-film submissions from all over the Philippines. The MMFF Committee revealed this to be a record-high.
Each of the 16 semi-finalists were given a seed grant of P20,000 to create their short film entries, which will then compete for the lucky final eight that will be screened in the festival.
The final eight shorts films will be announced in the third week of November.
Meet the stars
Catch your favorite celebrities in the traditional MMFF “Parade of Stars,” which will happen on 23 December in Parañaque City, coinciding with the 20th Cityhood Celebration of Parañaque. The parade will start near Shopwise and SM Parañaque and will end near the Baclaran Church.
The Awards Night will be held on 27 December 2018 at the Theater at Solaire.