This Christmas is extra special. We’ve all known Metro Manila Film Festival as that festival, with predictable lineups from Vic Sotto to Vice Ganda. But this year, the organization decided to highlight quality over box office clout. The selection committee–comprised of academic and film critic Nicanor Tiongson, veteran journalist Crispina Belen, political activist Mae Paner, among others–have lofty dreams for Philippine cinema. They want our films to be recognized locally and internationally, as much as the Japanese, Hong Kong, Chinese, Bollywood, and other Asian cinemas have done. This risky move by the MMFF could be the catalyst to a brighter future. This December 25 to January 7, take your friends and family (or your awesome self) to see these groundbreaking movies. You will not regret it.
1. Die Beautiful
by Jun Lana
starring Paolo Ballesteros
You probably know Paolo Ballesteros from his crazy-good celebrity makeup transformations. He’s a wizard with a brush, and writer-director Jun Lana captured his magic with a film that explores the dark world of gay beauty pageants. Based on early reviews we’re hearing this week, Die Beautiful is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. (FYI, Paolo took home the Best Actor trophy at the Tokyo Film Festival.)
2. Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: Forever Is Not Enough
by Marlon Reyes
Starring Eugene Domingo, Jericho Rosales, Kean Cipriano, with Joel Torre
If you’ve seen the first installment back in the 2011 Cinemalaya Film Festival, you know the drift–Eugene Domingo (as herself) is hired as an actress by an indie film crew, and the entire process becomes a parody of indie films. In this 2nd installment, the mockery is aimed towards Filipino romance films. Sounds fun.
by Erik Matti
starring Rhed Bustamante, Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso
Known for his dark, gritty sex/action films, Erik Matti is serving up a good dose of horror this time around. Set in 1947, the film will trap you inside a convent with aspiring priests and a mysterious (possibly evil) young girl. Can it get creepier than this?
4. Saving Sally
by Avid Liongoren
starring Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos
Just the fact that we have an animated sci-fi fantasy film is exciting. Rhian Ramos is Enzo Marcos’ object of affection in this dreamy, Tim Burton-ish, Nightmare-Before-Christmas-y movie. Definitely a step-up from big-budget, run-of-the-mill romcoms.
by Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido
starring Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC de Vera, Jason Abalos
Anything with Nora Aunor is worth looking at. This dark family drama–both heartbreaking and heartwarming–will make you think.
6. Vince and Kath and James
by Theodore Boborol
starring Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte
The only offering from Star Cinema, this Wattpad-based romance film is cute, but never cheesy. We’re hearing early reports that it’s very nakakakilig, and that’s a very good thing. (By the way, props to Ronnie Alonte for having TWO entries this year!)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYB1cAp17dE