Controversy has erupted over what is perceived to be politically-motivated selection of the honour roll of awardees in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). Only two films were rated “A” by the Cinema Evaluation Board in the 2013 MMFF — Shoot To Kill: Boy Golden of Scenema Concept and Viva Films which stars Governor ER Ejercito of Laguna and KC Cocepcion, and Viva Films’ 10,000 Hours which stars Robin Padilla and Mylene Dizon. Yet not a single distinction was reportedly awarded to Boy Golden.10,000 Hours is based on the life of Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, who is currently the “Rehab Czar” appointed by no less than President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III to oversee the recovery and rebuilding of the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan (a.k.a. Yolanda). While 10,000 Hours won big at the awarding ceremony last Friday night attracting 14 awards including Best Film, the awards for Second and Third Best Films were given to B-Grade movies Girl Boy Bakla and My Little Bossings respectively.
My Little Bossings, also the top-grossing film in this year’s MMFF which stars Vic Sotto (the film’s co-producer and brother of Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto) presidential sister Kris Aquino and her son James ‘Bimby’ Aquino-Yap is widely-derided as an incoherent, vacuous, product-placement-laced unabashedly commercial product that owes its place under the sun to its popular cast. Some reviewers have outright called it an insult to the intelligence and one seemingly produced with contempt for the audience clearly in mind.
Chito Roño, director of Boy Golden reportedly walked out in disgust before the announcement of the Best Director during the awarding ceremonies and accused the MMFF of deliberately disrespecting the effort that went into the production of his film, noting that the MMFF, being under the Office of the President is under the president’s direct influence and, as such, likely to have been a party to politically-motivated manipulation.
“Pati dito sa MMFF ay pinasok na nila ng kabalbalan. Paano nila ipapaliwanag na ang isang graded A movie ng CEB ay walang nakuhang award sa festival? Ang Best Float naman ay merong ibang sets of judges naman siguro, hindi naman sa technical and acting awards sila involved.
“Akala nga namin ay maglalaban-laban sa padamihan ng awards ang ‘Boy Golden’ at ‘10,000 Hours’, tapos binokya nila ang movie ni ER. Mga bastos sila!” mahabang sintir ng isang kaibigang reporter na nakasama namin right after the awards night.
“We should fight on. We have rave reviews. We can make tonight just a hiccup,” ani direk Chito Roño na hindi na tinapos ang announcement ng Best Director award dahil naramdaman na niyang walang mangyayari sa “Boy Golden” dahil sa trending ng bigayan ng trophies.
Halatado kasing pilit na ibinagsak ang pelikula ni Gov. ER. “I’m still proud of our film. I’m sorry, we were shut out of the film festival awards,” dagdag pa ni Direk Chito.
“Kitang-kita talaga, maliwanag pa sa sikat ng araw. Imagine, pati ba naman Best Production Design ay ibinigay pa nila sa ‘10,000 Hours’ samantalang ‘yung kanila ay puro existing while ang sa ‘Boy Golden’ ay talagang binihisan ang mga location para maging consistent sa pagka-period nu’ng panahon ni Arturo Porcuna.
“Sa Best in Cinematography, kitang-kita naman kung gaano kalayo ang ganda ng ‘Boy Golden’ compared ulit sa ‘10,000 Hours’. Pero wala talaga eh. […]”
Boy Golden which recounts the story of 1960s gangster Arturo Porcuna attracted favourable reviews and was expected to “easily win numerous awards”. To be fair, however, the MMMFF is ultimately “really a competition of commercial movies” according to entertainment writer Roel Villacorta. Villacorta added that for “quality films”, the public should instead look to other fetes such as those offered by indie-focused Cinemalaya.
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