Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 Picks

The Metro Manila Film Festival this year has good films compared to last year, thus I have set my mind to spend Christmas in the cinemas for a whole 12 hours watching 4 films. The trailers did draw me to these films anyhow.

Going through the cinema schedules, I managed to squeeze all films within 12 hours. And here are my picks for this year’s film festival:

Die Beautiful


Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

Moral – No one’s entitled to one’s destiny but oneself despite the constraint to live by other people’s ideals and standards.

Social Context – transgender women in struggle to live by; to defy societal conformity, standards, and mores; to continue to live life with the capability to do good against odds of societal beliefs of spite.

a. Cinematography – I may not be an expert, but from an audience’s point of view, it was appealing in a sense that it worked for the story. It wasn’t that ambitious. It was straightforward and direct.

b. Screenplay and story – the bluntness and straightforwardness are apparent in the lines. There was a sense of playfulness to it as it’s supposed to depict the gay life and thinking. But again, it didn’t push so much. It just spoke enough.

c. Actors – shout-out to the lead Paolo Ballesteros for being a natural in the character. It didn’t push so much in the process, and lines were spoken in sincerity and appropriateness within the scene. Most actors showcased a blend and not so much pushing or subsiding in the scenes.

d. Emotion – when a movie ignites a certain emotion in me, then it must be good. And for this, I really felt it. The comedic lines lightened everything, but the context was deep-seeped and heavy.

e. Relevance – this film made relevance in the context of acceptance, tolerance, familial expectations, and societal standards. It speaks so much of awareness in society.



Rating – 3 out of 5 stars

Moral – Justice is a matter of individual and humanitarian drive against a systemic definition crippling society to claim the good.

Social Context – Extra judicial killings; corrupt officials and authority; a system that cannot be revamped as it has become institutionalized.

a. Cinematography – I seriously appreciated how certain scenes were shot. The panning, zooming in and out, the close-ups, the shadows, accidental casting of natural light, and other cinemotographic techniques. But at times, they didn’t do justice to some scenes. It was a little off for some.

b. Screenplay and story – I was trying to figure out if this was worthy of praising. One, it’s apparent. I get the point that it’s somehow an expose of the status quo today with characters derivative of politicians in spotlight. The theme on extrajudicial killing is okay, but it would have been better if something new or trivial were presented. It was literally the current situation laid in the film. It didn’t work so much for me. I was lost somewhere in the middle when it was still being figured out if Tunying (father and husband) and Andy (son) were indeed suspects in the robbery incident. Yes, it can be obvious to the audience, but the lines and execution didn’t do everything justice. It was like watching a hybrid of a crime series while I was waiting for the resolution and a matter-of-fact film, but it just didn’t work so much.

c. Actors – Nora Aunor simply played the role well, as expected. I wasn’t just convinced so much probably because of the screenplay. Casting Nora was definitely fine, but I just find her quite big for the screenplay. JC De Vera though was a surprise. He definitely stood out leaving the rest of the actors subsided. I just felt his character while he was capitalizing on facial expression, non-verbals, and right-on-the-scene captivation.

d. Emotion – I had to force that emotion out of me though. All I felt was a humdrum sense of cynicism in the society and the common people’s fight for justice. It wasn’t as pronounced as it should have been.

e. Relevance – definitely, there is relevance of the story in today’s context.

Sunday Beauty Queen


Rating – 5 out of 5 stars

Documentary Takeaway – The Filipino diaspora will not stop as long as there is, one, an opprortunity abroad, two, non-existent opportunities in the country. Change in international policies on labor needs to happen.

a. Cinematography – for a newbie on documentaries like me, I must say scenes were shot spot on. The interviews and responses were perfectly fit in scenes and shots. I have to say that Filipinos DEFINITELY have this thing for documentaries! It gave me goosebumps, thus cinematography was just superb!

b. Screenplay and story – documentaries flow on story after story stitched into one whole idea, and this definitely brought the audience to a whole new experience, the lives of the OFWs, and the emotional turmoil these people have experienced. It was an excellent interplay of interviews and responses while the documentary unveiled truths in the status quo. Again, bravo on this!

c. Actors – documentaries do not play on acting or presentation. The real people definitely brought out their real selves. I would just like to say that these participants have so much emotion in every interview. There was so much for them to say. That I commend because they didn’t have to act on it. They just simply expressed themselves.

d. Emotion – the fact that it made me think twice to leave the country because of how difficult it is to live overseas, and that I just teared up in the end made this documentary on top of my list!

e. Relevance – yes, the Filipino diaspora is of relevance today in the context that this should be brought out in the open for people to realize.

Ang Babae Sa Septik Tank 2


Rating – 4 out of 5 stars

Sum-up – A satire to the film industry, and the reviving of the Lino Brockas of today. A breather after the really good ones, I must say.

a. Cinematography – scenes were shot as pop films would do. It was enough to present the story line.

b. Screenplay and story – like the first one, the screenplay and story were satirically amazing! It was smart, sassy, and spot-on.

c. Actors – Eugene Domingo will be on top of my list. How she changes her emotions, her expression, and movement just speaks so much of how she is as an actor. Shout-out to Jericho Rosales for naturally playing his character. Cai Cortez was also a well-composed actor as she played her role.

d. Emotion – hilarity and humor were definitely take-aways from this film. But to the keen in context, I felt the struggle of the independent filmmaker as put up against the marketing ploy of a commercial producer. The divide still exists, and as part of the audience, I felt there was that tension and reality. Superb!

e. Relevance – in a satiric way, this film brings out the reality in the film industry.


Overall, I can definitely see a future for Filipino filmmakers. It’s something that I have to say as I am more than just proud! I am ecstatic with how Filipino films can bring out big in the society.

Photo Credit: [Feature photo – ClickTheCity.comwww.iweb.phStarmometer; My Movie World


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