The 33rd Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) capped this year's edition with some unexpected twists and surprises in the awarding ceremony held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City last Saturday, January 5.
After bagging the Best Festival Picture award last year, Vic Sotto's Enteng Kabisote was finally dislodged, not by Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo, but by Bong Revilla's sci-fi-action film, Resiklo.
Resiklo's victory caught some spectators by surprise, given the rule of the MMFF committee in which the top grosser film automatically gets the Best Picture plum. This year, Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo's Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo (SSS) raked in the most profit in terms of ticket sales. The fact that it failed to net the Best Picture Award raised some confused eyebrows.
"I think nakangiti ang Star Cinema dahil P97-million ang kinita niya," emphasized SSS director Jose Javier Reyes in a bid to downplay the observation of some members of the press that the film had been denied the honor despite its strong showing.
As a consolation of sorts, Direk Joey however won the Best Screenplay trophy for his other festial entry, Katas ng Saudi.
JINGGOY'S NIGHT. Despite their failure to make a killing at the tills, senator and part-time actor Jinggoy Estrada was able to vindicate himself by bagging the Best Actor Award for his portrayal in the OFW-inspired film, Katas ng Saudi.
"Hindi ko akalain na makakakuha pa ko ng ganitong klaseng award," said the actor in his acceptance speech. Overwhelmed by his victory, Jinggoy thanked everyone who supported him in all of his endeavors, particularly his friends in the film industry, led by action star Rudy Fernandez.
He also dedicated the award to his parents, deposed president Joseph Estrada and Senator Loi Ejercito, for their unconditional support both in his political and acting career.
As for the trophy, "Idi-display ko ‘to sa senate," he animatedly said after the awards night.
Regal Entertainment matriarch Lily Monteverde, together with director Manny Valera, received the Best Actress Award in behalf of Bahay Kubo's lead star, Maricel Soriano. Maricel was also absent during the annual MMFF Parade of Stars last December 24.
"To my dearest Maria, my precious Regal baby, you deserve this award," Mother Lily endearingly said about her prized talent.
First-time director Cesar Apolinario bagged the Best Director award for his remarkable work in the action-suspense film, Banal. Cesar, who is better known as a reporter for GMA-7, was obviously dumbfounded by the recognition bestowed on him in the face of tough competition against more seasoned directors.
Apolinario's triumph, despite Banal's shoestring budget and lack of backing from a more established film production outfit, was definitely inspiring.
"Mahirap isipin na nanalo kasi twelve shooting days lang ginawa ‘yong pelikula, given the limited budget compared to other entries. Pero ang daming nagsasabi na mga critics and ‘yong mga nakapanood na maganda yung pelikula. Hindi ako makapaniwala na makakagawa rin ako ng ganitong pelikula," enthused the budding director to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) while clutching his trophy.
Unlike in the Best Picture Award, Cesar's victory was met with applause by veteran director Joey Reyes, who said it was one of the bright sides of this year's MMFF event.
"I'm so glad that if there's anybody who won it's Cesar Apolinario dahil baguhan siya and very promising siya bilang director," enthused Joey Reyes. "I think if there is any achievement of the festival it's giving a chance to a new director—a director na may utak and may direksyon ang uri ng filmmaking na ginagawa."
This year's awarding ceremony took only about 45 minutes, perhaps the fastest in the history of the annual film festival. Right after the ceremony, Filipino international performer, Lani Misalucha, took center stage for a special one-night concert aimed to raise additional funds for the beneficiaries of this year's Metro Manila Film Festival.
Here are the list of the major awards and awardees:
Best Original Story - May Cruz and Cesar Apolinario (Banal)
Best Screenplay - Jose Javier Reyes (Katas ng Saudi)
Best Supporting Actor - Roi Vinzon (Resiklo)
Best Supporting Actress - Eugene Domingo (Bahay Kubo)
Best Director - Cesar Apolinario (Banal)
3rd Best Festival Picture - Enteng Kabisote 4
2nd Best Festival Picture - Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo
Best Festival Picture - Resiklo
Best Actor - Jinggoy Estrada (Katas ng Saudi)
Best Actress - Maricel Soriano (Bahay Kubo)