Of horror, badings & controversy at the MMFF 2012
LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2012 - 12:00am

There certainly were surprises at the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) awards night, possibly even more than in past years which gave film buffs and fans more room for discussion and letting off steam which Pinoys love. The biggest surprise was in the race for the box-office with Sisterakas finishing first just as Kris Aquino had predicted, way ahead of its opponent Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote at si Ako with little chance of trend changing until Jan. 8, last day of the festival.

Not only were box-office figures of the eight entries amazingly different, but they also foretold a change in audience tastes. One More Try won six awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Dingdong Dantes; El Presidente won eight awards including Second Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Ceasar Montano as Bonifacio; Thy Womb won seven awards including Nora Aunor as Best Actress and Brillante Mendoza as Best Director; Sisterakas got the Third Best Picture; Shake, Rattle &  Roll 14 won an award for special effects. Sosy Problems, Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote at si Ako and The Strangers won no award.

This being the season of the horror trend in film, books, including fashion, naturally there was The Strangers, Shake, Rattle & Roll 14 in mainstream and Grave Bandits which won Best Picture and Director in New Wave category. There are also those who would include Sisterakas among the horror trend with Kris Aquino as head witch for having unstintingly predicted the film’s ranking in the competition. “Bruhang babae,” our row mate kept whispering to her companion while watching the fully packed Sisterakas.

Our bading friend, however, has another theory. He says they are not surprised at Sisterakas’ triumph. Since the gays became accepted in modern-day society and admired for their abilities in the arts and fashion, their population has increased. “Why wouldn’t Sisterakas, the ultimate tribute to kabaklaan not make it as top grosser and Third Best Picture? Why not indeed, we see his point, despite critic Doy del Mundo’s opinion that the performances of the three leads Vice Ganda, Ai-Ai delas Alas and Kris belonged to the “hysterical school of acting,” and dubbed the film as “chaka.”

The macho era of Vic Sotto and Sen. Bong Revilla has ended. The gays have taken over. The Enteng franchise will need some makeover. Meantime, Kris in her consummate wisdom has stated in an interview that she was so happy with the results but wouldn’t advise a Part Two. “Quit, when you’re ahead,” she supposedly stated.

Still, there are those who wonder why the Best Picture was not Nora’s Thy Womb and instead was One More Try which was simply another update of the very successful sex dramas No Other Woman, A Secret Affair and The Mistress. Obviously, One More Try was better acted (Dingdong, Zanjoe Marudo, Angel Locsin and Angelica Panganiban), better directed (Ruel Bayani) and gave the Christmas crowd a drama option from the sea of comedies and horror films in the line-up. It was the perfect mainstream option to the Nora Aunor starrer Thy Womb that finished last at the box-office.

Of course, they were aware of Nora being the only possible Best Actress in the derby. But we loved both Angel and Angelica’s attack on their individual roles as mother and wife. Star Cinema should have entered both in the supporting actress category and they would have run away with the award.

Even before awards night, internationally acclaimed indie director Brillante Mendoza was ringing up friends to patronize Thy Womb that could possibly be pulled out by theater owners for its poor showing at the tills. The Noranians came in full force to support the film and Nora but it wasn’t enough. Their head, UP English studies graduate, writer, Ricky Lee workshopper Nestor de Guzman sadly admits it is the audience which hasn’t yet learned to appreciate an art film. We remember Brillante some years back telling us he wasn’t ready to go into mainstream and would do it only on his own terms, which we knew meant no compromises.

He got it in this year’s MMFF and also got what it meant. In her column, Rina Jimenez-David wrote, “One lesson could be is to know one’s audience.. There’s a melodrama embedded somewhere in Thy Womb, and even a message of reproductive health and rights, and I wish Mendoza had relented a bit from his ‘indie’ mindset and allowed ordinary filmgoers a bit more access to the story he wanted to tell.” Best Actor in New Wave Indie was Allan Paule, Best Actress, Liza Diño.

In her Best Actress acceptance speech, Nora thanked those who watched, saying she will continue making quality films that she herself would produce.

(E-mail us at bibsymcar@yahoo.com)

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