The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is an annual film festival in the Philippines that runs from Christmas day to January of the following year. Though named after the capital region of the country and organized by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the MMFF is a nationwide event that screens entries in cinemas all over the country.
This year, ten promising films are set to premiere in theaters and showcase local filmmakers and actors. Whether you’re a horror, drama, comedy or action fan, MMFF 2023 has a little bit of everything for film enthusiasts and casual moviegoers everywhere.
Mallari is a horror-thriller directed by Roderick Cabrido under Mentorque Productions, starring Piolo Pascual and Janella Salvador. The film is a fictionalized account of the Philippines’ first-ever documented serial killer, a catholic priest named Juan Severino Mallari. Mallari follows the eponymous priest’s murders during the Spanish occupation.
Another horror film entry, Kampon, is directed by King Palisoc, produced by Quantum Films, and stars Derek Ramsay and Beauty Gonzales. It was initially set to premiere in MMFF 2019 but was postponed due to casting and scheduling issues. The film is about a couple trying to conceive for almost a decade. One rainy night, they mysteriously find a lost child on their doorstep who they choose to adopt. Since then, horrifying things have started to happen to their family with no clear sign of stopping.
MMFF 2023 also features drama films such as When I Met You In Tokyo, a romance-drama starring iconic and legendary pairing Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon. This film follows the story of two elderly individuals who end up in the same company, tackling themes of love, sacrifice and mortality from their point of view as they get to know one another and fall in love. This film is directed by Rado Peru and Rommel Penza under JG Productions.
Family of Two is a dramatic entry for the family. The film stars Sharon Cuneta and Alden Richards as a mother and son duo who cope with everyday life making ends meet and dealing with the loss of their father figure. Mateo (Richards) is eager to find a romantic partner for his mother, Maricar (Cuneta), which the latter vehemently refuses. This film is directed by Neuel Naval under Cineko Productions.
Rewind is a romantic-drama film that stars real-life married couple, Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes. The story follows a struggling couple as they attempt to navigate married life. Mary (Rivera) and John (Dantes) are involved in a car accident because of an argument, resulting in the death of Mary. Now, workaholic husband John attempts to redeem himself through a magical second chance to relive his life. Rewind is directed by Mae Cruz-Alviar under ABS-CBN Film Productions, AgostoDos Pictures and APT Entertainment.
The last dramatic film in the lineup is Firefly, a magical realist story that revolves around Tonton (Euwenn Mikaell), a boy inspired by his mother’s (Alessandra De Rossi) bedtime stories to search of the “Island of Firefiles.” This film explores themes of “courage, hope and a mother’s love.” Firefly is produced under GMA Pictures and directed by Zig Dulay.
Aside from tears and heartfelt moments, this year’s MMFF is also set to make audiences laugh out loud and experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Broken Heart’s Trip is a comedy-drama directed by Lemuel Lorca and produced under BMC Films and Smart Films. It stars Christian Bables as a host of a reality television show that features five LBGTQIA+ participants portrayed by Teejay Marquez, Marvin Yap, Petit, Iyah Mina, and Andoy Ranay. The show travels around the country to visit various tourist destinations and help deal with and eventually heal the broken hearts of the participants.
The other comedy film in the lineup is Becky & Badette starring comedic icons Eugene Domingo and Pokwang as the main leads. The story follows the duo and their sudden rise to fame as a video of them talking about their high school classmate goes viral. Becky & Badette is directed by Jun Luna and produced under IdeaFirst Company and October Film.
MMFF 2023 also features an action-packed supernatural-hero film, Penduko. This film is based on the legendary Filipino hero “Pedro Penduko” and is written and directed by Jason Paul Laxamana under Viva Films. The film follows Pedro (Matteo Guidicelli), a 20-year old “wimp” raised in the United States and forced to return to the Philippines after his father’s death. As he searches for his estranged mother in his homeland, he uncovers mystical secrets and curses threatening his town.
Last in the lineup is an epic biographical film based on the lives of three martyred priests who had a profound effect on the history of the Philippines. GomBurZa follows Mariano Gomes (Dante Rivero), José Burgos (Cedrick Juan) and Jacinto Zamora (Enchong Dee) as they held their faith, nationalism and courage under the Spanish occupation, inspiring Filipinos until today. GomBurZa is directed by Pepe Diokno under Jesuit Communications, MQuest Ventures, and CMB Film Services.
These ten films will premiere in theaters starting Christmas Day on December 25, 2023, up to January 7, 2024.
Which of these films are you excited to see this Christmas? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
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