LOY ARCENAS’ Ang Larawan, the musical film based on the play by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin was named this year’s Best Picture at the 43rd Metro Manila Film Festival’s (MMFF) Gabi ng Parangal held on Dec. 27 at the Kia Theater in Quezon City.

Aside from bagging the night’s and festival’s top prize, the film starring theater actress Joanna Ampil and singer/actress Rachel Alejandro, also went home with a Best Actress award for Ms. Ampil, Best Production Design for Gino Gonzales, Best Musical Score for Ryan Cayabyab, the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Award, and a posthumous Special Jury Prize for Nick Joaquin.

“We don’t feel worthy to receive this award in place of Nick Joaquin. We don’t have the right. But we want to share with you a memory we have of him — every time we showed Ang Larawan (the play version) he would be there commenting and laughing… I’m sure up there in the sky he will be saying to all of us: ‘Good job everybody! Contra Mundum!’” said Celeste Legazpi-Gallardo, one of the producers of the film, while accepting the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas award for Mr. Joaquin.

Another big winner was Paul Soriano’s Siargao which went home with not just four technical awards — Best Sound for Paul Soriano and Mark Locsin, Best Original Theme Song for “Alon” by Hale, Best Editor for Mark Victor, and Best Cinematography for Odyssey Flores — but the Best Director award for Mr. Soriano and the Best Supporting Actress nod for Jasmine Curtis-Smith. Siargao was also named the Second Best Picture in the festival.

“THANK YOU MMFF2017!!! We didn’t expect that our small film would garner this much recognition. Congratulations Team Siargao!!!” said a post on the film’s official Facebook page.

The Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award went to the reboot of Ang Panday and a Special Jury Prize for Directing went to Rodel Nacianceno — better known by his screen name Coco Martin. Ang Panday was Mr. Nacianceno’s directorial debut.

“Thank you MMFF for this prestigious award. I’m so proud that my son witnessed this unforgettable experience. Dan Villegas thank you for guiding me and helping me bring life to Gab,” said Derek Ramsay in an Instagram post on Dec. 27, having won the Best Actor Award for his work in All of You. “[Thank you] Jennylyn Mercado for being such a great leading lady.”

Joyce E. Bernal’s Gandarrapiddo: The Revengers Squad bagged the People’s Choice Award.

While not bereft of controversy — there was much grumbling about how the festival entries were chosen — the MMFF executive committee (Execom) still considers this year’s festival as a success, reporting that the 2017 MMFF “broke box-office records as it surpassed the 2015 [MMFF] first and second day gross sales,” according to a statement posted on its official Facebook page on Dec. 27.

“The big achievement is bringing back our kababayans to the theaters. It took quite some time before we saw this kind of enthusiasm once again from the Filipino viewers,” MMFF Execom Chair Tim Orbos was quoted as saying by the statement.

The statement also added that this year’s festivals “tripled the foot traffic to the theaters from last year.”

The 2016 festival was somewhat of an anomaly as it was composed mostly of quality independent films which earned a smaller box-office take and drew fewer people to the theaters. Last year’s festival posted P413 million in gross receipts compared to 2015’s P1.2 billion. The 2016 festival crowned Baby Ruth Villarama’s Sunday Beauty Queen as Best Picture, the first documentary to win in the festival.

But those waiting for the committee to release the numbers for the first or second day gross and which films which topped the box office, this information will not be made available. The Execom, “along with the producers of the festival entries plus the theater representatives, have agreed not to release any actual figures and rankings so as not to create a bandwagon effect on the viewers,” said MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer in a statement posted on his Facebook page on Dec. 26.

“We encourage everyone to support ALL the eight entries because we are as strong as our weakest film,” he added.

The MMFF runs until Jan. 7, 2018.

Below is the full list of winners at this year’s MMFF:

• Best Picture — Ang Larawan

• 2nd Best Picture — Siargao

• 3rd Best Picture — All Of You

• Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award — Ang Larawan

• Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence — Ang Panday

• Best Picture (Short Film) — Anong Nangyari kay Nicanor Dante

• People’s Choice Award (Short Film) — Noel

• Best Director — Paul Soriano (Siargao)

• Special Jury Prize for Directing — Coco Martin (Ang Panday)

• Special Jury Prize (Posthumous) — National Artist Nick Joaquin for Ang Larawan

• Best Actress — Joanna Ampil (Ang Larawan)

• Best Actor — Derek Ramsay (All of You)

• Best Supporting Actress — Jasmine Curtis-Smith for (Siargao)

• Best Supporting Actor — Edgar Allan Guzman (Deadma Walking)

• Best Child Performer — Sebastian Benedict Arumpac, aka Baeby Baste (Meant To Beh)

• Best Screenplay — All of You

• Best Cinematography — Odyssey Flores (Siargao)

• Best Editing — Mark Victor (Siargao)

• Best Production Design — Gino Gonzales (Ang Larawan)

• Best in Visual Effects — Ang Panday

• Best Original Theme Song — “Alon” by Hale (Siargao)

• Best Musical Score — Ryan Cayabyab (Ang Larawan)

• Best Sound — Paul Soriano and Mark Locsin (Siargao)

• Children’s Choice Award — Ang Panday

• People’s Choice Award — Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad

• Best Float — Deadma Walking

• Male Celebrity of the Night — Derek Ramsay

• Female Celebrity of the Night — Erich Gonzales

Zsarlene B. Chua