SUREFIRE crowd-pullers once again dominate the first four film entries for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which is set to run from Dec. 25 to Jan. 7 in cinemas nationwide.

The MMFF selection committee announced the first four entries on Wednesday via its official Facebook page.

The entries were chosen from scripts submitted on or before May 31.

Four more entries, this time chosen from submitted finished movies, will be announced later in the year to complete the film festival line-up of eight films.

Among the films chosen from scripts are those of film festival veterans Marvic “Vic” Sotto and Jose Marie “Vice Ganda” Viceral who top bill family drama Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity directed by Linnet Zurbano, and Momalland directed by Barry Gonzales, respectively.

Last year, Mr. Sotto — alongside Nicomaine “Maine” Mendoza and Rodel “Coco Martin” Nacianceno — starred in Mike Tuviera’s Jack Em Popoy. This year, Ms. Mendoza joins Mr. Sotto on the big screen once again.

This is the second film together for Mr. Viceral and Mr. Gonzales — the first was the fantasy film, Fantastica.

Anne Curtis-Smith, who starred in Yam Laranas’ 2018 MMFF entry, Aurora, this year will join Mr. Viceral in Momalland.

Also among the first four entries are Miracle in Cell #7, directed by Mel Menoza-Del Rosario, which is the Filipino adaptation of Hwan-kyung Lee’s 2013 Korean family drama of the same name. It is about a mentally challenged man who is wrongfully imprisoned for murder and how his fellow inmates smuggle his young daughter into prison.

The original Korean film grossed $80.3 million according to Box Office Mojo.

The Filipino adaptation stars Ariel “Aga” Muhlach and Nadine Lustre.

The final film of the four is King Palisoc’s horror movie, (K)Ampon, starring Kristina Bernadette “Kris” Aquino and Derek Arthur Ramsay. This is Ms. Aquino’s first horror film since 2014’s Feng Shui 2.

The MMFF is arguably the country’s largest film festival meant to promote Filipino films. It is now on its 45th year. Last year, the festival grossed P1.60 billion. — Zsarlene B. Chua