10 Controversial MMFF Movies
Take a walk down MMFF memory lane.
(SPOT.ph) Since its inception in 1975, the Metro Manila Film Festival has always courted some level of controversy. Take the year 1977 for instance, when Lino Brocka openly criticized one of the judges, National Artist for Theater Rolando Tinio, after Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen won over Mike de Leon’s Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising. In 1986 and 1994, major awards were not given to entries because the jurors thought none of the films “deserved” the recognition.
Some controversies involved the film itself, while others had more to do with cast and crew drama. Either way, these 10 MMFF entries were some of the most-talked about movies of its time.
Honor Thy Father (2015)
You can say this film kickstarted the much-needed change in the MMFF that many have been hoping for. It all began when Honor Thy Father was disqualified from the Best Picture race for allegedly failing to disclose a screening during a different film festival in November. Director Erik Matti still won the Best Director award; he skipped the ceremony, and many filmmakers and celebrities rallied behind him. Eventually, the controversy took to Congress, which led to audits, reports on irregular funding, a new Executive Committee, and finally, the MMFF we know today.
Despite carrying a valuable message about human rights, Oro’s critical success at the MMFF was sidelined. At the turn of the New Year, word broke that the film depicted a graphic scene of a real dog being slaughtered for consumption. Initially, Oro denied the allegations, saying they had slaughtered a goat (or pig, as quoted in other news reports) and added effects later during editing. A statement from a cast member revealed that two dogs had died on set—one accidentally and the other one deliberately. (Oro maintained that no one from their cast was forced to kill the animal.) Eventually, PAWS filed an official complaint against them, and both the director and producer were banned from the MMFF in 2017. The film was stripped of its FPJ award and removed from theaters.
The year 2005 was a rocky one for the MMFF; amid several controversies, it was Annabelle Rama’s public tiff with Regal matriarch Lily Monteverde that had everyone talking. She accused Regal of unfair distribution and that Mulawin (which starred her son, Richard Gutierrez) was not screened in “prime location” theaters. According to PEP.ph, it took P20 million to make the film adaptation—an amount that it sadly did not earn back.
In 2010, Jennylyn Mercado emerged an early favorite to nab the Best Actress trophy for her performance in the Albert Martinez-helmed drama, Rosario. Unfortunately, when awards night came, Mercado wasn’t even nominated for the trophy, and her fans reportedly stormed out of the ceremony. The prize went to Ai-Ai delas Alas, who seemed to wow judges with her role in Ang Tanging Ina Mo (Last Na ‘To). It’s worth noting, however, that Rosario took home seven awards that night.
Dekada ’70 (2002)
The MMFF and all its divisiveness inspired another walk-out several years before Rosario. In 2002, the cast of Chito S. Roño’s now-celebrated Martial Law film, Dekada ’70 also stormed out of the PICC when Palanca winner Lualhati Bautista didn’t win Best Story or Best Screenplay. That wasn’t the only controversy that arose that night; Vilma Santos’ powerful performance was bested by sexy star Ara Mina in Mano Po. Naturally, film buffs and critics didn’t take that loss lightly.
Beauty and the Bestie (2015)
Honor Thy Father wasn’t the only much-talked about film in 2015. In terms of box-office earnings, it was a fight between MMFF staples Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto (alongside Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza). Some fans of the latter took to social media, claiming that tickets for My Bebe Love were being swapped with Beauty and the Bestie. MBL’s director, Jose Javier Reyes, confirmed the incidents, which the MMFF later denied and called “baseless.”
Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel (2013)
Today, we recall the hilarious antics of Kimmy and Dora (Eugene Domingo) with fondness, but its 2013 prequel actually got into a bit of MMFF trouble. The director, Chris Martinez, dared the jurors to reveal their selection process for winners after his film failed to bag any awards. He also questioned Maricel Soriano’s win for Best Actress—not that she was a terrible actress, of course—but that her role was a supporting one. (Soriano won for Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy, which was led by Vice Ganda.)
Mano Po II: My Home (2003)
The second installment of the Mano Po franchise, which was helmed by Erik Matti, received plenty of praise from critics and audiences. Its drama stemmed from behind the scenes, before filming even took place. Both Dina Bonnevie and Lorna Tolentino were reportedly promised the same role to play the third wife, Belinda. The casting had gone in disarray and Tolentino allegedly threatened to back out if she didn’t get the role; her manager, Lolit Solis, also threatened to pull out her other ward, Christopher de Leon from the movie.
Bagong Buwan (2001)
Although Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s 2001 drama, Bagong Buwan, won Cesar Montano a Best Actor trophy, it didn’t clinch the Best Picture and Best Director prize, losing to Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure. In Montano’s acceptance speech, he expressed disappointment at the results but famously (and sarcastically) said he was fine with the loss and added, “Bibili na lang kami ng trophy sa Recto.” Many called foul at his statement, but it remains one of the MMFF’s most memorable moments ever.
Enteng Kabisote 3: Okay Ka Fairy Ko—The Legend Goes On and On (2006)
When Vic Sotto’s never-ending Enteng Kabisote (then at its third installment) won Best Picture, organizers had to explain the win due to uproar: simply put, the criteria was changed to consider commercial appeal or box-office takes (well, at least they were honest about it). This led to Star Cinema writing to then-MMFF chairman Bayani Fernando to point out that Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo should have won because it topped the box-office during the first few days of the festival.