IT’S two days before Christmas and that means it’s also time for the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) though with the pandemic, the country’s largest film festival has shifted online via Filipino streaming service Upstream.ph.
This year’s crop of films are quite diverse — from biopics to dramas to fantasy — and so to help you choose which film (or films) to watch this year, here’s a rundown of the 10 MMFF film entries for 2020.
(The MMFF runs from December 25 to January 7 and tickets can be purchased in advance via Upstream.ph. Tickets are priced at P250 in the Philippines and $10 worldwide.)
THE BOY FORETOLD BY THE STARS
Written and Directed by Dolly Dulu and starring Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson
Touted as the first Boys Love (BL) film in the Philippines, the romantic comedy is about two senior high school boys, who through the help of a fortune teller, find each other at a school retreat.
Directed by Adolfo Alix, Jr. and Written by Gina Marissa Tagasa, starring Jinggoy Estrada, Sylvia Sanchez, Martin del Rosario, Edgar Allan Guzman, Vin Abrenica, Shaira Diaz, Jake Ejercito, Julian Estrada, and Ariella Arida
In this family drama film, Mr. Estrada plays an OFW from Qatar who comes home ill to his family in the Philippines but him having a mistress overseas tore his family apart. His legal wife, played by Ms. Sanchez, tries to keep the family together while having secrets of her own.
Written and Directed by Antoinette Jadaone and starring Charlie Dizon and Paulo Avelino
Fan Girl is a coming of age story of a teenage girl who’s a diehard fan of actor Paulo Avelino. She manages to smuggle herself to his “home” and yet when she actually meets her idol, he is nothing like what she imagined him to be.
ISA PANG BAHAGHARI
Directed by Joel Lamangan starring Nora Aunor, Philip Salvador, and Michael De Mesa
In this family drama, a former seaman returns home to his family who was made to believe that he died when his ship exploded many years ago. His wife and his children are less than enthused about his return but the seaman continues to try to win over his family with the help of his gay friend.
Directed by Christian Acuna and Written by Rod Marmol and Pat Apura, starring Miggs Cuaderno, Elijah Alejo, Princess Aguilar, and Josh Eugenio
Magikland is a fantasy-adventure film about four friends who get transported to the world within the mobile game “Magikland.” These four friends then need to save the fantasy world from the hands of an evil dictator.
MANG KEPWENG: ANG LIHIM NG BANDANANG ITIM
Directed by Topel Lee and Written by Rod Marmol, starring Vhong Navarro, Jaclyn Jose, and Joross Gamboa
In the second installment of the Mang Kepweng series which started in 2017, quirky faith healer Mang Kepweng becomes arrogant due to his popularity which in turn makes his healing powers, given by a red polka dot bandana, to wane just an enemy — with a black bandana — tries to sow terror and discord to the world. Mang Kepweng and his friends then try to save the world by restoring the power of the red polka dot bandana.
Directed by Easy Ferrer and starring Ritz Azul, Miles Ocampo, and Joseph Marco
The only horror film in this year’s MMFF, the film is set in Japan and pays homage to Japanese horror titles such as The Ring (1998) and Ju-on: The Grudge (2002). In The Missing, a group of renovation experts are called to renovate a house in Saga, Japan but then realizes that there’s more to the house than meets the eye.
Directed by Al Tantay and starring Andrew E., Janno Gibbs, Dennis Padilla, and Jerald Napoles
A comedy, Pakboys: Takusa follows the lives of four womanizers who get in trouble because of their antics and their long-suffering, yet loyal wives try to bail them out.
SUAREZ: THE HEALING PRIEST
Directed by Joven Tan and starring John Arcilla
Suarez: The Healing Priest is a biopic about the life of Father Fernando Suarez who gained popularity as a faith healer and led healing masses that attracted thousands. Fr. Suarez was also present in the film via a “digital healing segment.” Fr. Suarez passed on February 4, 2020 before the film was completed.
Directed by MacArthur Alejandre and Written by Ricky Lee, starring Alfred Vargas, Iza Calzado, and Shaina Magdayao
Tagpuan is a romantic drama about the love story experienced by mature people and follows the intersection of the lives of an estranged husband and wife (Mr. Vargas and Ms. Calzado) and a younger woman (Ms. Magdayao). — Zsarlene B. Chua