The historical film Baler, set during the 18th century, was adjudged the Best Festival Picture of the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival. Produced by Viva Films in cooperation with Bida Foundation, this Jericho Rosales-Anne Curtis starrer bagged a total of 10 awards including the Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award.
Anne received her first acting trophy when she was adjudged Best Actress for her performance in Baler. Her co-star Phillip Salvador was named Best Supporting Actor while their director, Mark Meily, won Best Director.
Christopher de Leon bested other Best Actor contenders for his performance in Magkaibigan, where he essayed the role inspired by the late Rudy Fernandez. Manilyn Reynes, meanwhile, picked up the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her comedic role in One Night Only.
The red carpet was rolled out at the Sofitel Harbor Tent in Pasay City to welcome the stars of the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Last night, December 27, the awards night of the annual filmfest took place in honor of the eight official entries that participated in this year's edition.
Before the ceremony started at around 8:30 pm, the stars and the directors of the various MMFF entries passed by the red carpet area to be interviewed briefly by Tim Yap and Phoemela Baranda before proceeding to the air-conditioned tent where dinner would be served. While the awards night was ongoing, VIP guests ate their sumptuous meal and afterwards, they were treated to a special presentation of Katy! The Musical.
Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando revealed that the 2008 edition of the MMFF is off to a good start because revenues of the entries increased 37 percent compared to last year. He is optimistic that this year's edition will fare better, allowing them to finally reach their goal of reaching their target of P500 million. During his speech, he pointed out that there are 658 cinemas all over the Philippines and 400 of them are concentrated in the Metro Manila area.
Opening the awards night were Yeng Constantino, Sheryn Regis, and Karylle. They rendered songs that had their lyrics changed to fit the moviemaking theme of the night. For instance, Yeng sang the song "Salamat, Salamat Musika" but its lyrics were tweaked with lyrics that went: "Salamat at may pelikula dito sa ating mundo..."
Only the recipients of major awards were allotted time to give an acceptance speech while the rest of the awardees were handed their trophies onstage. The host of the awards night was Boy Abunda. Toni Gonzaga (who had pretaped her segments) served as the trivia host.
Best Festival Director Mark Meily expressed his happiness over that fact that his period film Baler took home the Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award.
"Malaking bagay po ito dahil tungkol ito [Baler] sa kultura nating mga Pilipino. Sana maging inspirasyon itong award sa ibang producers at ma-realize nila na it's worth doing a film about Philippine culture," he said.
And when Phillip Salvador was called up the stage to accept his trophy for Best Festival Supporting Actor, he pointed out that this Viva Films movie is historic for him in several ways: it marks his return to the big screen after seven years and it is also the first time that he has received an acting award from the MMFF.
"All glory and honor to Jesus! Pag pinalakpakan n'yo po si Jesus, may bonus kayo! Kuya Vic [del Rosario, Viva Films producer], thank you at binigyan mo ako ng pagkakataon na makasama sa isang napakagandang pelikula. Pitong taon na po akong walang pelikula at ito po ang aking comeback movie. It's nice to be back. I will treasure this forever!"
Best Festival Actress Anne Curtis was so shocked when she accepted the award that she could hardly complete her acceptance speech. "Wow! I don't know what to say! I want to thank my Viva family for entrusting me with this role and for putting me in such as wonderful movie. Viva Baler! This is my first acting award in my 12 years in the business," said the lead actress of Baler.
Ai-Ai delas Alas and Jinggoy Estrada were tapped to be the presenters of the Best Festival Picture Awards handed out that night. The star of Ang Tanging Ina N'yong Lahat took the opportunity to promote her film since she said it might be the only time that she would be able to go up the stage.
As soon as it was announced that Iskul Bukol: 20 Years After was the third Best Picture winner, Ai-Ai called out, "Congrats Bossing Vic, Tito Joey!"
After that, Jinggoy announced that the Star Cinema film Ang Tanging Ina N'yong Lahat landed in second place. A surprised Ai-Ai responded to the announcement by saying, "Akala ko kami ang first, kami pala yun...nakakaloka!"
Here is the list of winners for the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival:
Best Picture: Baler (Viva Films)
2nd Best Picture: Ang Tanging Ina N'yong Lahat (Star Cinema)
3rd Best Picture: Iskul Bukol: 20 Years After (OctoArts Films/M-ZET Productions/APT Entertainment)
Best Festival Actor: Christopher de Leon (Magkaibigan)
Best Festival Actress: Anne Curtis (Baler)
Best Supporting Actor: Phillip Salvador (Baler)
Best Supporting Actress: Manilyn Reynes (One Night Only)
Best Festival Director: Mark Meily (Baler)
Best Festival Screenplay: Roy Iglesias (Baler)
Best Festival Original Story: Jose Javier Reyes (One Night Only)
Best Festival Child Performer: Robert Villar (Shake, Rattle & Roll X)
Best Festival Musical Score: Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia
Best Festival Movie Theme Song: "Lipad" (Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalia)
Best Festival Cinematography: Baler
Best Festival Makeup: Desperadas 2
Best Festival Visual Effects: Dayo
Best Festival Production Design: Baler
Best Festival Sound Recording: Dayo
Best Festival Editor: Baler
Gender Sensitive Award (for promoting equality of men and women through film): Baler
Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award: Baler
The awards night will be aired tonight, December 28, on RPN-9 at around 9 p.m.