The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has recently released the list of competing films and we’re excited about it.

Much reform has been done on the criteria of selection (and has angered a number of people! Haha) which definitely affected the qualifiers. Many of the old timers were no longer included, which means most of the competing films are new breed or alternative narratives from great auteurs.


New criteria

The committee that screened the entries have used a new set of criteria this year. Story, audience appeal, and overall impact was given 40%, while cinematic attributes and technical excellence was also given 40%. The former deals mainly on excellence in storytelling and conveying the filmmaker’s vision to the audience, while the latter deals with creative and excellent film execution which includes directing, acting, production design, and editing among others. Global appeal and Filipino sensibility were both given 10% each.


With these new criteria, audience appeal was considered as part of an overall story qualification, and was given equal weight with cinematic attributes. In the previous criteria, there was “Commercial Viability” which has a weight of 50%.


Moreover, this year a big requirement for those aiming for inclusion to the competition is to submit finished films. In the previous years, MMFF allows the submission of screenplays or scripts prior to production. This season, since MMFF will only accept finished films, it is acceptable that many films might not qualify but will still screen outside the competition.


The revamp of the criteria of selection is a welcome development to the MMFF committee which was criticized mainly on the kind of films it accepts for the festival every year, and how some film franchises continue to qualify every year. Esquire published an article about the previous selection process, which it identified as “too absurd to be sinister, because there isn’t really much into the selection process.”


Competing films

According to the Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP), 27 films were submitted for consideration for this year’s festival. The list of 27 included new titles as well as old timer franchise films. Upon selection and evaluation, only eight (8) films were accepted to compete.


1. Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough

A comeback of the well-received film Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank starring Eugene Domingo as Eugene Domingo. Directed by Marlon Rivera, Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 will also star Eugene Domingo, Jericho Rosales, Kean Cipriano, Khalil Ramos, and Cai Cortez.


2. Kabisera

Superstar Nora Aunor and Ricky Davao stars in this family drama-suspense. Also included in the cast is Jason Abalos, Luis Alandy, JC De Vera, and more. The film is co-directed by Real Florido and Arturo Agustin.


3. Die Beautiful

Bwakaw and Anino Sa Likod ng Buwan director Jun Robles Lana is back on the festival with Tokyo Film Festival Audience Choice film Die Beautiful which also earned lead star Paolo Ballesteros a Best Actor award at the same competition. This will serve as the film’s Philippine premiere.


4. Oro

Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa director Alvin Yapan joins this festival with a film about gold and all the complexities it creates in life. Oro stars the multi-awarded veteran actress Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, and Joem Bascon.


5. Vince and Kath and James

Teen romance online book Vince and Kath written by Jenny Ruth Almocera will be directed by Ted Boborol as Vince and Kath and James starring Kapamilya stars Julian Barreto, Joshua Garcia, and Ronnie Alonte.


6. Seklusyon

Multi-awarded director Erik Matti comes back this year with Seklusyon, a horror-thriller about the seminarians’ last few days before becoming a priest. This film stars Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman, and JR Versales


7. Sunday Beauty Queen

Gawad Urian Best Documentary Awardee Baby Ruth Villarama joins MMFF with this film about the glamour and struggle of Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong. This film stars Hazel Perdido, Cherrie Mae Bretana, Mylyn Jacobo, Leo Selomenio, Rudelyn Acosta, and many more.


8. Saving Sally

This comic book-turned- film is directed by visual artist and illustrator Avid Liongoren. Starring Rhian Ramos and Enzo Marcos, Saving Sally is a result of a decade-long development from comics to film.


All films will be showing on December 25, Christmas day in all cinemas until around the first week of January. The parade of stars will be on December 23 at the Roxas Boulevard in Manila and the awarding of winners will be on December 29.


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