Yearly MMFF brouhaha

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Now that it's that time of year again, we take a look back at the past couple of years' Metro Manila Film Festival hullabaloos.

But first, a little intro. We at PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) see the MMFF being much awaited for three big reasons.

One, for giving the public a jolly good show--from the Parade of Stars where the floats are a visual treat and the stars waving gaily to crowds feels very Christmassy, to having a relatively inexpensive place to bring all the kids and the barkada to. Two, for resuscitating local cinema from the pirated-DVD abyss because, after all, this is the one time of year when cinema houses in Metro Manila are mandated to uniformly carry only local films. And three, for conjuring another batch of big and noisy controversies before the old year gives way to the new one's own set of controversies.

Since PEP thinks it's still the hullabaloos people want to recall, here goes:

In MMFF 2005, Regal Films matriarch Lily Monteverde—Mother Lily in the showbiz world—complained that some awards had been given to the undeserving. The target of her ire was Wilson Chieng, a producer and juror, who had allowed himself to be interviewed on television before the awards night, during which he said Kutob had a good chance to win for Best Film. (It won for Best Director.)

Mother Lily, who had at least four films showing at the MMFF, then announced she would never again join the MMFF unless the judging system was changed. The two old friends kissed and made up months after at Ruffa Gutierrez's birthday party at Le Souffle in Rockwell. They just looked at each other and hugged; all was forgiven.

That same year, Blue Moon director Joel Lamangan walked out of the MMFF awarding ceremony after his movie grabbed the Best Film award but lost the Best Director award to Jose Javier Reyes for Kutob.

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Meantime, Mother Lily had another tiff going her way when talent manager Annabelle Rama hit her on television for what Annabelle called the ill treatment of Mulawin, which starred Annabelle's son Richard Gutierrez. Annabelle complained that the theaters given to her son's film were not in prime locations, thereby affecting the box-office take of the movie. Mulawin was reportedly produced at over P20 million, which amount it did not recoup.

Come 2006, and last year's tension seems to be over. Regal Films has four entries aiming for the top plum: ZsaZsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh, Super Noypi, Shake, Rattle & Roll 8, and Mano Po 5: Gua Ay Di.

And proving that controversy can't be bad for one's career or confidence, for the 2006 MMFF Joey Reyes has joined yet again, and now he's got not just one but two films: Matakot Ka sa Karma, and Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo.

MMFF 2001 was the year Cesar Montano was named Best Actor for Bagong Buwan. In his acceptance speech, he expressed disappointment over the film's loss in the Best Picture category. He said, with sarcasm, that he didn't really mind the loss because in his heart he knew that the film, directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya, had won, and that trophies could be bought any time in Recto anyway.

Ill feelings were mended three years after. In MMFF 2004, Cesar's directorial debut film, Panaghoy sa Suba, took home several awards, including the Best Director trophy for him.

This year, Cesar is back with Ligalig—a film he produced, directed, wrote, and starred in. We don't know how this one will fare with the jurors, but we certainly hope we don't have comments about Recto trophies again.

Back in MMFF 2003, controversy arose even before the actual filming of film festival entry Mano Po 2. The camps of Dina Bonnevie (led by Arnold Vegafria) and Lorna Tolentino (led by Lolit Solis) went to war as cast changes in the movie spun on a merry-go-round, with each camp claiming they'd been promised the same role by Mother Lily. (Maybe she did.)

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Showbiz won't be showbiz without all these twists and turns, but as controversies go, these are really quite fun to follow--but, of course, only in recall!


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