Through the years: Controversies in the MMFF

Posted on January 11, 2013

THE METRO Manila Film Festival (MMFF), held annually since 1974 during the Christmas season in recognition of the role of the film industry in providing "artistic depictions of both the country’s stories and history," is no stranger to controversy. The annual movie event is not only a chance to earn both money and honors, it is also a yearly opportunity for industry players to resort to mudslinging. Here’s a partial list of some of the more memorable controversies in the 38-year history of the film festival.

1977: Director Lino Brocka walked out of the MMFF awarding ceremonies at the Metropolitan Theater when Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen starring Vilma Santos won eight of the 10 awards that year including Best Picture. Mr. Brocka reportedly threw invectives at National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio who was the chairman of the panel of judges that year. It was also reported that organizers asked the winners to return their medals (the MMFF handed out medals that year) due to the controversy.

1978: The board of jurors decided that it would not award honors for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Instead, the jurors gave Nora Aunor a "Best Performer" award for her role in the movie Atsay. Ms. Aunor beat Ms. Santos, whom fortune-tellers on the talk show of Inday Badiday had predicted would win the award for her role in the movie Rubia Servios. Confident that she would win, Ms. Santos reportedly went to the awards night at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in an expensive couture gown. After the awards ceremonies, Ms. Santos reportedly got so drunk she passed out.

1983: Many were surprised after Coney Reyes-Mumar won the Best Actress award for the movie Bago Kumalat ang Dugo and Anthony Alonzo bagged the Best Actor award for the same movie, besting acting greats Charito Solis and Vic Silayan who were both in the movie Karnal.

1986: The MMFF jurors decided not to hand out the Best Story and Best Screenplay awards "since no one of the seven entries deserved the awards."

1988: Stuntman Baldo Marro won Best Director for the movie Patrolman, beating Chito Roño who directed Itanong Mo sa Buwan. Mr. Marro also won Best Actor for the same movie.

1994: No Best Picture and Best Director Awards were handed out during the awards night, as jury members again felt no entries were deserving of the honors.

2001: Cesar Montano accepted the award for Best Actor for the movie Bagong Buwan, but expresed his disappointment that the movie failed to win as Best Picture. He then went on to say that trophies could be bought anytime in Recto anyway.

2002: The cast of the movie Dekada ’70 walked out of the award ceremonies after Lualhati Bautista failed to win the Best Story and Best Screenplay awards. Even more controversial was the decision of the judges to name Ara Mina Best Actress for her role in Mano Po. Ms. Mina beat Vilma Santos, who was in Dekada ’70.

2005: Director Joel Lamangan walked out after he lost to Jose Javier Reyes. Mr. Lamangan failed to win for his movie Blue Moon. Mr. Reyes won for Kutob.

2006: Enteng Kabisote 3: Okay Ka Fairy Ko The Legend Goes On and On and On was declared the Best Picture after festival organizers changed the criteria for the award by giving more weight to "commercial appeal." Movie producer Star Cinema made a protest to the MMDA, claiming that the movie Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo should have won Best Picture because it topped the box office.

2007: The awards night ended in less than an hour after festival organizers decided to just announce the winners without fanfare. The awards night had to be rushed because a concert, featuring singer Lani Misalucha, was scheduled right after the awards ceremonies.

2011: Amable "Tikoy" Aguiluz declined to accept the award for Best Director for the movie Manila Kingpin after he claimed that the movie "was edited without his consent beyond his recognition."