Nora Aunor movie fails to make MMFF cut

By Reyma Buan-Deveza,

Posted at Jun 18 2012 04:07 PM | Updated as of Jun 19 2012 09:18 PM

Director Brillante Mendoza says it's okay

MANILA, Philippines – Cannes-winning director Brillante Mendoza said he harbors no ill-feelings against the organizers of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) after his movie "Sa ’Yong Sinapupunan” (or "Thy Womb") failed to make this year's line up.

A scene from "Thy Womb."

"Well, okay lang. First of all, I respect the decision of the screening committee. Secondly, of course it's their basic right, kung ano man ang decision nila," Brillante told in an interview on Monday afternoon.

"Congratulations to the films that were accepted. The usual big film production companies -- Regal, Viva, Star Cinema -- congratulations and good luck to everyone," he added.

Competing at the 38th MMFF in December are: "Conyo Problems" from GMA Films; "El Presidente' from Scenema Concept International, Inc.; "Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang" from Unitel Productions, Inc. and TV5; "One More Try" from Star Cinema; "Shake, Rattle and Roll 14" from Regal Entertainment, Inc.; "Si Agimat, si Enteng Kabisote and Me" from Octoarts Films, M-Zet Productions, Imus Productions, APT Entertainment and GMA Films; "Sisteraka" from Star Cinema and Viva Films; and "The Strangers" from Quantum Films.

"Sa 'Yong Sinapupunan," which stars multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor, was among the 13 entries vying for a slot at this year's MMFF.

Also failing to make the cut were: action film “Alyas Ben Tumbling” with newcomer Jerico Estregan; “Tuhog” starring Robert Arevalo, Enchong Dee and Eugene Domingo; “Death March,” a historical drama from Adolfo Alix, Jr. with Zanjoe Marrudo, Ejay Falcon, and Carlo Aquino; and “My Prince Charming” with Thai actor Mario Maurer and Iza Calzado, also directed by Alix.

The criteria in the selection of the eight entries include commercial viability, artistic merit and cultural and historical value.

Shock and disappointment

Aunor's fans, as well as several members of the entertainment media, were disappointed that her movie was not among the official entries at this year's MMFF.

"We reckon that what the Noranians feel is very valid. The film is reportedly being eyed by a major international film festival for inclusion in its main competition lineup. It will be a big slap on the face of the organizers of the Metro Manila filmfest if the movie gets to represent the country in Europe this August, and a bigger slap if Thy Womb wins international recognition and acclaim," wrote columnist Ricky Gallardo in BusinessMIrror on Monday.

"Awww.. Thy Womb... where art thou.... :S," commented Cinephiles member Epoy Deyto on Facebook.

But Mendoza shrugged off speculations that the MMFF screening committee simply doesn't like Aunor.

"I don't think so ...baka naman nago-overreact lang 'yung iba doon, especially 'yung mga fans ni Ate Guy. They are a bit shocked because we're half-done with the film. Considering 'yung iba ay hindi pa nagsho0-shoot eh kami, patapos na ako," he said.

"I think there's enough for everyone. Hindi naman ako masyado, kumbaga, atat doon sa festival, so 'yun lang, " the director added.

Asked if the MMFF screening committee explained why his film was not accepted, Mendoza replied: "No, no wala."

For international release?

In the interview, Mendoza also clarified speculations that "Thy Womb" will be shown at an international film festival, saying he has to finish the film first before he can join any festival.

"You know, with festivals, you cannot predict or you cannot really tell hanggang hindi nila nakikita 'yung film. There's always a misconception and we have to clear that lalo na sa moviegoers dito sa Pilipinas," he said.

"The only time na pwede mong masabing natanggap ka if it's officially launched by the festival itself. So 'yung mga filmmakers o kung sinuman ang nagsasabi diyan na 'pang-Cannes ito, pang-Venice, ito pang-Berlin itong ginagawa ko,' they can never say that, not until the screening committee of the film festival says so na ‘OK we are accepting your film.’ At hindi nila masasabi 'yon hanggang 'di pa natatapos ang film. So they have to watch it, they have to see it for themselves to say na we are accepting you," he explained.

"Kahit pa ano ang sabihin mo na pang-Cannes ito o pang-Berlin ito eh kung hindi naman nila tinanggap paano mo masasabi 'yon? Ikaw lang ang nagsasabi noon,” Mendoza said.

Global distribution

According to Mendoza, he’s almost done with "Thy Womb." If he can finish his movie before December, he said there's a possibility that he can enter it to the Venice Film Festival.

“Hindi ko pa alam. Kailangang makita ko muna siya ng buo kasi 'di ko masabi ngayon. At saka depende din kung kailan ko siya matatapos. Kung matapos ko siya ng December, sana sa Venice. If not marami namang festival so hindi naman kailangan mag-rush for the festival. Kumbaga hindi naman buhay ng pelikula ang festival lang, marami kasi pwedeng venues," he said.

“Kaya lang tayo napi-pressure kasi -- lalo na sa indie film -- kasi pwede siyang ma-acquire ng mga distributor sa ibang bansa. Ibig sabihin, pwede siyang mabenta ng world distributor. Ako naman, ang pelikula ko ay mayroon ng world distributor. Ibig sabihin hindi na ako kailangan pang maghanap ng mga distributor para lang mabenta," he explained.

"So it's not really a big deal sa akin, itong MMFF. So, congratulations na lang sa mga nakuha. Sana ay magkaroon sila ng distribution din outside the Philippines,” Mendoza added.