Cesar Montano should feel good about this! Jose Javier "Joey" Reyes says he secretly wished that Cesar would win as best director in last night's Gabi ng Parangal of the 32nd Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) held at the Aliw Theater, CCP Complex.
Joey won the best-director award for his work in Star Cinema's Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, starring Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo. Cesar was nominated in the same category for CM Films' Ligalig, which he also starred in, co-wrote, and co-produced.
Direk Joey told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) right after the awards night: "‘Yung pagkapanalo ng best director, hindi ko ini-expect. I was actually secretly hoping that Cesar would win because I knew that he did a very good job. So when I won, it was very, very overwhelming."
The Kasal director was still holding his best director trophy when he spoke to PEP: "These things [trophies] are nice to hold and nice to put on shelves, but this is not the point why I make movies. I love making movies and I love the people I make movies with. These are nice icings to the cake but this is certainly not the cake."
Direk Joey, who also won for best story and best screenplay for Kasal, wanted to make clear though that he was thankful for the recognition.
"I'm definitely thankful. I think I am so blessed. At the time when I was questioning myself whether I should stick it out in this industry or not, suddenly God gives me these answers. So I think I'm very happy," he said.
This is the third time that Joey Reyes has been chosen MMFF best director. He got his first award in 1993 for Star Cinema's May Minamahal, the second time was just last year for Canary Films' Kutob, and now this.
Interestingly, on all three occasions that Joey Reyes won for best director, his film was not awarded the Best Picture trophy.
In 1993, Reyna Films' Kung Mawawala Ka was the winner while Reyes's May Minamahal was 2nd Best Picture. In 2005, Regal Films' Blue Moon went home with the award while Reyes's Kutob was named 3rd Best Picture. This year, although Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo got the most number of awards—10 trophies to be exact, including Best Actress for Judy Ann Santos and Best Supporting Actress for Gina Pareño—it only came in second to Enteng Kabisote 3 for Best Picture.
BOX-OFFICE SUCCESS. The third installment of Vic Sotto's family adventure movie, Enteng, did not win any other award and won the Best Picture by virtue of its success at the tills.
Apparently, as host Edu Manzano announced, box-office returns comprised 40% of the total vote.
So the three top-grossers in this year's film festival—Enteng Kabisote 3, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, and Shake, Rattle & Roll 8—automatically won the three best picture trophies at stake.
Angelica Jones, who is in the cast of Enteng Kabisote 3, accepted the trophy on behalf of the film's producers—Vic Sotto and Orly Ilacad. Vic was out of the country during the Gabi ng Parangal, while "Boss" Orly had already left the Aliw Theater when the Best Picture trophy was presented.
The "40% box-office returns" ruling came as a surprise to nearly everyone, including Direk Joey who presented the award for Best Picture with Boots Anson Roa and Iza Calzado.
"It was only when Edu explained it as an addendum... but then I saw the pattern when we were reading the winners," Direk Joey replied when asked if he was aware of the criterion.
"Honestly, I wouldn't mind if Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo lost to Ligalig. Because the Best Picture going to Ligalig will certainly boost Cesar's good movie," Direk Joey said. (Ligalig is currently ranked number eight at the box-office.)
The director further stated, "Enteng Kabisote is way up there in the stratosphere. It does not need any further boosting. As a matter of fact, it is perhaps the only film in the festival which is parang the Star Wars of Philippine movies. It's a very viable franchise e. I really wished that Ligalig or ZsaZsa Zaturnnah would have been given a greater boost in the box-office by being honored with awards. But, you know, as the jurors said, they only followed rules."
Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, Ligalig, and ZsaZsaZaturnnah Ze Moveeh are the three filmfest entries given a "Rated A" by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB).
WHAT ABOUT MMFF 2007? PEP asked Joey if he was willing to direct a movie for the MMFF next year knowing that the present criteria do not give the biggest weight to the merits of a film.
The award-winning director answered, "You know, it's hard to say whether you'll join or not. Maybe at this point, I don't know. Maybe ang isang kailangang gawin ng Metro Manila Filmfest is to be more definite about their rules."
He added, "Maybe meron kailangang reassessment to be done especially for next year. We cannot say that this is a learning experience because this is the 32nd time that it [MMFF] is being done. So maybe, they [organizers] really should sit down and talk to the people of the industry to really know the mechanics to go about it. My God, kung kami pumarada ng anim na oras mula Quezon Circle hanggang Mall of Asia hanggang Aliw Theater, siguro naman kailangan din dinggin nila ‘yung aming pangangailangan!"
He also reiterated his opinion that entries to the MMFF should not be shown simultaneously.
"I was very vocal from the start na hindi dapat siyam [na pelikula ang] sabay-sabay na ipinalabas. Dapat naglabas ng anim at naglabas ng tatlo para mas malaki ang chance ng mga producer na makabawi. Hindi yung siyam na kinalat mo. Ang lalabas niyan, may hahakot ng pagkarami-rami at may malulugi nang talagang malala and that is what happened [this year]. It is very evident, may mga nalugi," Joey stressed.
"Sa bawat producer na nalugi, ilang trabaho na ang mawawala sa susunod na taon? Sa bawat producer na hindi naibalik ang kanyang investment, ilang pelikula pa ang gagawin niya o hindi niya gagawin sa susunod na taon? Ilang tao ang mawawalan ng trabaho dala niyan?"
But in the end, Joey refused to call his victory a bittersweet one.
"It will only be bitter if you allow it to be bitter. I'd rather take it with a sweet. After all, the New Year is coming and I'm going to Bora [Boracay] tomorrow morning [today] so I'm gonna be happy," the winning director beamed.