1. Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award
Director: Mark Meily
Story: The daughter of a rebel general falls in love with a mestizo soldier serving the Spanish occupiers. The two fight for their love, but they find themselves on opposite sides of an even bigger battle for the country’s freedom.
Trivia: It’s a big budget period war epic. There’s some serious money behind this picture, which could translate into some spectacular cinema. Mark Meily is the writer/director of Crying Ladies and La Visa Loca, two highly regarded pictures. It’s been said that it’s been his long time dream to make a film about the siege of Baler, and that enthusiasm is probably going to shine through. He’s gathered a pretty phenomenal cast as well. The question is if he can balance the focal love story with all the history he wants to portray.
1. Best Musical Score
Director: Robert Quilao
Story: A boy’s grandparents have been abducted and taken to a magical land inhabited by creatures from Philippine mythology. The boy must now try to save his grandparents, and with the help of a young Manananggal, he travels to that magical land himself.
Trivia: Animation is always a risk, especially when you’re not dealing with the kind of budget that the artform calls for. But our country has always been home to some of the world’s finest animators, and digital technology seems to have given the creators of Dayo more leeway to work with. The art style looks strong enough, and they’ve made some strong choices in the voice and music department. Dayo really serves as a test for the Philippine animation industry, and its success or failure could pretty much determine the future of the industry.
Best Make - Up
Director: Joel Lamangan
Story: The four half-sisters return, still dealing with various issues, when their mother falls ill and decides to drop a bombshell on them: they have a fifth half-sister who’s been hidden away in an island.
Trivia: Desperadas was a surprise hit in last year’s festival, and the sequel doesn’t look like it’s going to mess with their formula for success. I was actually on the set of this movie, They’ve dropped the breast cancer advocacy in this edition, giving more focus to the straight comedy and the development of these characters. Ogie Alcasid joins the cast as the fifth half-sister, and he’s certainly a fine addition to any cast.
Director: Jose Javier Reyes
Story: A motley gang of characters that includes a movie star, a reporter, a congressman, a hairdresser, a jilted, suicidal lesbian and a gold-digging playgirl all end up in the same seedy motel on one very strange night.
Trivia: They aren’t really splitting hairs on this: the first trailer and posters for the film show us nothing but the five beautiful main actresses. They’re pushing the sexiness a lot, though the film is actually a bit of a romantic comedy backed up with some serious thespians in Ricky Davao and Paolo Contis. I don’t really know what to expect with this film, but it could this year’s sleeper.
Best Child Performer - Robert Villar
Director: Mike Tuviera and Topel Lee
Story: The horror anthology returns with three new stories. Bloodthirsty creatures invade a hospital. A high school class spends the night in school, only to be haunted by the spirit of a demented nun. An Engkanto slayer must come out of retirement to save her town.
Trivia: Topel Lee and Mike Tuviera have really taken over this series, which could reasonably give them a chance to experiment a bit with the form. But for the most part, it sounds like another regular installment of the series, with a bunch of young stars mixing it up with a few cinema veterans, screaming their way through two straight horror stories and one horror comedy. It’s a reliable model, to say the least.
2nd Best Picture
Director: Wenn V. Deramas
Story: Ina Montecillo, toiling mother of twelve, finds herself in the national spotlight when she uncovers a plot to kill the president. She then gets herself elected president, using her own brand of motherly wisdom to lead the country.
Trivia: The first movie was a blockbuster, and this sequel should expect to do the same kind of business. Many of the catchphrases from the movie seem to have already caught on. Ai-Ai de las Alas remains to be the main draw, with her incredible commitment and spot-on delivery. The movie tries for a somewhat heady mix of broad, goofball comedy and genuine motherly sentiment, with maybe just a dash of political commentary. Whether it succeeds remains to be seen.
Best Actor - Christopher de Leon
Writer and Director: Jose Javier Reyes
Story: A man tries to help his lifelong best friend get through his cancer.
Trivia: Katas ng Saudi was one of last year’s biggest surprises, and they seem to be going for the same dramatic tone with Magkaibigan, this time bringing in Christopher de Leon to match up with Jinggoy Estrada. The movie is said to be a tribute to Rudy Fernandez, who died this year of cancer. That personal dimension can only heighten of the emotions of the film, which promises to be this year’s big tearjerker.
Iskul Bukol: 20 Years After
3rd Best Picture
Director: Tony Y. Reyes
Story: 20 years after they last got together, Vic Ungasis meets up once again with the Escalera brothers. Vic has become a history professor/archaeologist in the meantime, and is on a quest to find a silver coin that is supposed to grant its bearer immortality.
Trivia: Iskul Bukol might be one of the most beloved sitcoms in Philippine television, and returning to the series with most of the original cast ought to excite some fans. This film takes the place of another installment of the wildly successful Enteng Kabisote series, but they seem to be sticking with the fantasy adventure theme, putting the Iskul Bukol characters in the middle of a crazy quest to find a magical artifact. Aside from the main cast, some pretty big names show up in the cast, including Sharon Cuneta and Manny Pacquiao.
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