Festival vets make up 1st 4 entries in this year’s MMFF

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THE Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2018 selection committee has announced the first four official entries for this year’s film festival and the list includes festival veterans including Jose Marie “Vice Ganda” Viceral, Marvic “Vic” Sotto and Rodel “Coco Martin” Nacianceno.

The announcement was made at the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) offices in Makati City on June 29.

The four films — which were chosen from scripts — make up one half of the film festival’s entries, with the next four entries — which are finished films — to be announced at a later date as the deadline for finished films to be submitted for consideration is on Sept. 21.

Scripts for the Short Film category meanwhile, are due on Aug. 31.

This year’s selection committee is headed by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera.

“This year’s scripts are way better than last year’s,” said Mr. Lumbera as quoted by MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer in an instagram post on June 29.

The four films are:

Aurora, a horror/thriller directed by Yam Laranas (The Road, Patient X) which is set in Batanes and starring Anne Curtis-smith;

Fantastica: The Princesses, the Prince and the Perya, a comedy directed by Barry Gonzalez and starring Mr. Viceral, Maris Racal and Maymay Entrata;

Girl in the Orange Dress, a romantic comedy directed by Jay Abello (Flotsam, Namets!) which will feature Kim Chiu, Jessy Mendiola, Jericho Rosales, Sam Milby, Tom Rodriguez, and Kit Thompson; and

Popoy en Jack, the Puliscredibles, an action/comedy directed by Mr. Nacianceno featuring himself and Mr. Sotto in the lead roles.

Popoy en Jack marks Mr. Nacianceno’s second directorial job after 2017’s remake of Ang Panday which was also an MMFF entry. Popoy en Jack also marks Mr. Nacianceno’s first collaboration with Mr. Sotto, who is known for his annual participation in the MMFF, with his latest being last year’s Meant to Beh, directed by Chris Martinez, a romantic family comedy he starred in alongside Dawn Zulueta.

The four films were judged based on their scripts and Mr. Ferrer noted in a separate Instagram post that there were 24 scripts submitted this year. They were judged based on the following criteria: Artistic Excellence 40%, Commercial Appeal 40%, Filipino Cultural Sensibility 10%, and Global Appeal 10%.

The MMFF is the country’s largest film festival, drawing enough audience members to earn more than P1 billion in recent years. It was established in 1974 “in recognition of the role of the film industry in providing artistic depictions of both this country’s stories and history” according to the website of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority — better known as the MMDA — which runs the festival.

An earlier version of the festival was set up in 1966 under the name Manila Film Festival, initiated by then-Mayor Antonio Villegas as a way of getting Filipino films into the city’s so-called “first run” theaters which showed only American films back then as Filipino films were screened at second tier cinemas.

The festival will run for two weeks starting Dec. 25 in cinemas nationwide. During the run of the festival, only the official entries are shown in theaters. — Zsarlene B. Chua