Last year’s edition of the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival has many things going for it.
It had 10 fairly well-made entries on various genres from comedy to drama.
But as the threat of the virus was pretty much around, everything was done virtual from the parade of stars to the awards night.
On the first week of the festival, the big buzz was that movie fans had a hard time accessing the entries in the official platform.
The good news was that the most promising entry of them all – Fan Girl written and directed by Antoinette Jadaone – was the talk of the town and topped the box office race on the first three days.
It also won the most number of awards during the culminating awards night.
Jadaone’s Fan Girl has echoes of Lino Brocka’s 1980 film Bona (Nora Aunor and Phillip Salvador) and the 1981 French film, Diva (about a Parisian postman obsessed with an opera singer).
Both are about excessive adoration of idols.
In Fan Girl, Jadaone chronicles the transformation of a movie fan Jane (Charlie Dizon) always after her idol (Paulo Avelino).
After a night out with her favorite star, movie fan finds out a darkly revealing life she didn’t see in her idol’s showbiz image.
But she is bent on knowing everything there is to know and see about her idol.
She hugs her movie posters at the back of the pick-up she secretly hid herself and soon gradually finds out her idol’s other off-screen rituals. She even gets to photograph her idol while peeing and shared it fast with her friends and gloating how gifted the actor was.
At the end of that one-night encounter, fan girl comes to term with her obsession.
The idol has feet of clay and it was too late in the day to realize she has been had at her own expense.
Dizon reveals a lot as a starstruck fan. The acting is instinctual, much of it is pretty raw but it served the purpose of the film.
For a change, Avelino portrayed a riveting fictional version of himself and emerged an admirable flesh-and-blood actor. There was rawness and veiled detachment in his execution of lust and a fine patina of kindness and hint of admiration for his movie fan who surprisingly can recall all his TV and film appearances.
With the character under the influence of booze and drug and sharing it with his fan, their carnal encounter took an eerie turn enough to jolt and shock those who are used to the prim-and-proper image of the actor.
The result is acting of the first order that got him the best actor award.
On the other hand, Jadaone’s writing is good and direction well-defined.
It was the most daring entry and surprisingly topped the modest box office race.
Certainly, the initial box office result is a bit of letdown owing to the health protocols that pushed the festival into a purely digital event.
On the third day, some unofficial results showed the entire entries only earned a measly P11 million half of which was earned by the best picture choice.
Like it or not, that’s a far cry from the P200 million that one film earned on the first three days of 2019 MMFF.
Number 2 in the initial and unofficial box office race is Mang Kepweng, followed by Boy Foretold by the Stars, Pakboys: Takusa, The Missing and Magikland.
The last four box office slots are shared by drama films Isa Pang Bahaghari, Tagpuan, Coming Home and Suarez: The Healing Priest.
What do the results indicate?
That a bulk of movie fans are still far from being technical savvy.
But the good news is that many are learning fast how to get to the digital format.
Director Eric Matti said some films got fairly good advance box office sale.
Another good development is that an entire family can actually watch one entry compared to the one-ticket-one-entrance rule of the cinemas.
Matti also noted a big market for MMFF entries in the international community.
Dondon Monteverde, head of Upstream, which exclusively streamed the MMFF entries, said the new online set-up enabled filmmakers to maximize their profits based on online demand. “It’s the end of first-day-last day syndrome which used to plague some festival entries,” he said.
With the festival run ending first week of January, we hope for better box office response from the Filipino movie fans all over the world.
The MMFF 2020 Festival Award Winners:
Best Picture – Fan Girl
Second Best – Boy Foretold By The Stars
Third Best – Tagpuan
Best Actress – Charlie Dizon (Fan Girl)
Best Actor – Paulo Avelino (Fan Girl)
Best Director – Antoinette Jadaone (Fan Girl)
Best Actress in a supporting role – Shaina Magdayao (Tagpuan)
Best Actor in a supporting role – Michael de Mesa (Isa Pang Bahaghari)
Best Cinematography – Neil Daza (Fan Girl)
The special awards:
Gat Puno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award
Suarez: The Healing Priest
FPJ Memorial Award
Manay Ichu Vera Perez Memorial Award
Special Jury Prize
Peque Gallaga & Lore Reyes
Gender Sensitivity Award
The Boy Foretold by the Stars