There’s only a little more than a month left before the start of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, and, as expected, the eight official entries, also known as the “Magic 8”, have begun releasing a slew of promising trailers and intriguing previews to get cinemagoers eager for the Christmas season.
Below is your handy guide to the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival, which you can catch on December 25 to January 7 in all cinemas nationwide.
Photo from Daily Tribune
THE MALL, THE MERRIER
One of the most awaited MMFF entries this year is Star Cinema and Viva Film’s The Mall, The Merrier—and for good reason. The comedy movie marks the first time that It’s Showtime co-hosts and real-life friends Vice Ganda and Anne Curtis, whose films Fantastica and Aurora were part of the festival in 2018, will join forces for a big screen project.
The two will be joined by Dimples Romana, Tony Labrusca, BidaMan winner Jin Macapagal, Ion Perez, and Jackie Gonzaga.
Photo from Viva Entertainment
Though they have yet to release a trailer, Anne has offered a first glimpse into her character, Morisette, and that of Vice, who will play the role of Moira.
Photos from PUSH
“Promise po, itinataga ko sa wig ko na nakakatawa itong pelikula,” Vice has said of the film. “Ang dami naming ginawa ni Anne Curtis na 'di niyo nakikita every day sa okrayan namin sa Showtime. Lalo na si Anne. Sabi niya nga, 'nakakaloka parang nagpapakilala lang ako sa showbiz, ang dami kong ginawa for the first time.' Nagpababoy siya sa pelikulang ito para sa madlang people.”
In a previous statement, he also revealed that The Mall, the Merrier, a film by Barry Gonzales, will feature over 50 cameos by different stars, including Charo Santos-Concio, Regine Velasquez, and Anne’s husband, vlogger and entrepreneur Erwann Heussaff.
MISSION UNSTAPABOL: THE DON IDENTITY
Of course, no MMFF is complete without Vic Sotto, who is set to star in Mission Unstapabol: The Don Identity alongside Maine Mendoza.
"Kami ni Maine, first time namin na gaganap na hindi mag-ama. At ang totoo pa niyan, kontra pa ang aming character," Vic, whose film Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles was a hit in last year’s festival, has said of the action-comedy film.
The two GMA-7 artists will be joined by Jake Cuenca and Pokwang, who will share the screen with Vic as his leading lady in Mission Unstapabol nine years after they last worked together in Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak.
Photo from APT Entertainment on Instagram (@aptentertainment.ph)
“May lips to lips kami dito. Lalagyan ko siya ng kissmark sa gilagid, malala 'to, malala," said Pokwang.
Mission Unstapabol is directed by Linnet Zurbano and written by Antonio Tuviera, with the help of Vic himself. Produced by APT Entertainment and M-ZET TV Productions, it also stars Wally Bayola and Tonton Gutierrez.
Photo from APT Entertainment on Instagram (@aptentertainment.ph
Sunod, starring Carmina Villarroel, replaced Kris Aquino’s (K)ampon as part of this year’s official entries.
Stopping short of revealing further details about the film, Carmina has described Sunod as “not your typical Pinoy horror film”.
Photo from Carmina Villaroel on Instagram (@mina_villaroel)
“Its attack is very different. It’s eerie and creepy,” the actress, whose last MMFF movie Shake, Rattle and Roll II dates back to 1990, was quoted as saying in a previous interview.
Such was shown in a first teaser trailer released by Ten7P productions and Globe Studios for the horror flick just in time for Halloween.
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Directed by Carlo Ledesma, Sunod also stars Mylene Dizon, Susan Africa, and Kate Alejandrino.
MIRACLE IN CELL NO. 7
A popular Korean drama film about a six-year old girl and her mentally challenged father who was accused and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit is getting a Filipino adaptation for this year’s MMFF.
The remake is top-billed by Aga Muhlach and Bela Padilla, who replaced the original lead star, Nadine Lustre, after the latter begged off the project due to “medical reasons”.
Joining the two is a powerhouse cast consisting of Tirso Cruz III, Joel Torre, Soliman Cruz, John Arcilla Mon Confiado, Jojit Lorenzo, JC Santos, and child star Xia Vigor, who will play the younger Bela.
Photo from Bela Padilla on Instagram (@bela)
Photo from Aga Muhlach on Instagram (@agamuhlach317)
Photo from Tirso Cruz III on Instagram (@tirsocruziii)
Photo from JC Santos on Instagram (@j.c.santos)
Photo from The Saranghe Oppa on Facebook
Directed by Nuel Naval and produced by Viva Films, cameras started rolling for Miracle In Cell No. 7 in early August.
A teaser trailer was released for Miracle In Cell No. 7 this month, which you can watch below:
Seven years after the release of her last MMFF film, Si Agimat, si Enteng Kabisote, at si Ako, Judy Ann Santos is back with a new entry—Mindanao.
Photo from Brillante Mendoza on Instagram (@brillante_mendoza)
The film, which held its world premiere at the 24th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea ahead of the festival, is about a Muslim mother who awaits the return of her soldier husband deployed in a conflict of aggression in southern Philippines while she takes care of their cancer-stricken child.
According to its official synopsis, Mindanao features an “animation portraying a legendary brother fighting a dragon”.
Photo from Adobo Magazine
In September, a music video for its official theme song, Itadyak by Maan Chua, offered a first glimpse into Mindanao as it shows off the colorful dances and picturesque locations featured in the Brillante Mendoza movie.
Aside from Judy Ann, the film also stars Allen Dizon.
WRITE ABOUT LOVE
Write About Love is a movie of many firsts—aside from it being the directorial debut of Crisanto Aquino, it’s also the first time that Miles Ocampo will be headlining a movie as the lead actress, alongside GMA-7’s Rocco Nacino.
The romantic film, which is TBA Studios’s entry to this year’s MMFF, tells the story of a young female writer (Miles) and a seasoned male writer (Rocco), who are forced to work together to rewrite the script of an unfinished love story.
Joining them in Write About Love are Joem Bascon and Yeng Constantino.
Screengrab from ABS-CBN News
Photo from TBA Studios on Facebook
“Despite their clashing personalities and different perspectives on relationships, their writing process leads them towards a path of self-discovery, realizing in the end what it truly takes to write about love,” Direk Crisanto has said of the film.
"Plus there's the undeniable kilig factor of first time love. The character played by Miles must prove to the older, dashing male writer that she can write a genuine love story even if she has never been in love before.”
Write About Love is the first official entry to have released a full trailer, which can be watched below:
3POL TROBOL: HULI KA BALBON
Following the success of his last MMFF film with Vic and Maine, Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles, Coco Martin returns with another entry—3pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon.
This time, Coco will share the silver screen with another pair of GMA-7 artists, Jennylyn Mercardo and AiAi Delas Alas, as well as former actor and now-Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.
Photo from Coco Martin on Instagram (@mr.cocomartin)
Photo from Jennylyn Mercado on Instagram (@mercadojenny)
Photos from AiAi delas Alas on Instagram (@msaiaidelasalas)
In an interview, Aiai has revealed that she will play the role of Coco’s onscreen mother, whereas Isko has confirmed that he will star as himself—a mayor.
Coco himself will direct and produce 3pol Trobol: Huli Ka Balbon. Further details about the movie have yet to be announced as of this writing.
Another one of the most-talked about MMFF entries is Culion, which features a cameo appearance by elusive actor-turned-artist John Lloyd Cruz on the silver screen two years after his last film, Finally Found Someone.
Photo from Culion on Instagram (@culionfilm)
Screengrab from ABS-CBN News
Directed by Alvin Yapan and written by Ricky Lee, the movie is set in 1940s and centers on the story of three leper patients Anna (Iza Calzado), Doris (Jasmine Curtis-Smith), and Ditas (Meryll Soriano).
Photo from Culion on Instagram (@culionfilm)
The official synopsis reads: “Anna never loses hope that soon a cure will be found, even when her baby is taken away from her. Doris believes in the myth that a beautiful diwata will soon heal the place. Ditas keeps attempting to kill herself, helpless against the onslaught of memories from the outside world.
“Together the three friends try to negotiate a life of stigma that seesaws between hope and despair, redefining their roles as women, mother, friend, and human being. In the end they prove that neither disease nor death can erase their humanity and their capacity to endure.”
Though it has yet to be detailed, John Lloyd’s role in Culion is “very important” and is connected to Meryll’s character, according to producer Shandii Bacolod.
A teaser trailer for Culion, which also stars Joem Bascon and Mike Liwag, was released in late September. It can be watched below: