This year's Metro Manila Film Festival will include a barkada horror tribute to "Shake, Rattle, & Roll," but not a Brillante Mendoza movie about the government's drug war --and that has people talking.
Organizers of the annual film festival revealed its 8-film lineup last week that features "OTLUM," the story of a group of friends who dares each other to stay inside a haunted house gone wrong starring Ricci Rivero, Jerome Ponce and John Estrada.
The movie, from a new studio called Horseshoe Studios, was announced last, and was said to have been competing with Mendoza's award-winning "Alpha: The Right to Kill" for the final slot.
According to Pep, the decision to include "OTLUM" ahead of "Alpha: The Right to Kill" was much discussed by a selection board headed by National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera.
The criteria for this year was based mostly on a movie's "artistic excellence" (40%) and "commercial appeal" (40%), though consideration was also given to the "promotional of Filipino culture and historical values" (10%) and "global appeal" (10%).
The festival's December time slot has made it a box-office springboard for local studios --and the selection committee has had its problems in balancing its top two criteria.
In 2016, the decision to shun entries with headline-grabbing names such as Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto drew mixed reactions. A compromise was made the following year, featuring a lineup that was said to have combined "quality and box office potential."
Speaking with ABS-CBN News, Joven Tan, the director of "OTLUM," refused to comment on his movie being selected over "Alpha."
"Sila iyong judge, isa lang ako sa mga sumali. Kumbaga ayaw ko nang kuwestiyunin iyong ibang entries. Sabihin na lang natin na sinuwerte, maagang pamasko, at siguro binalanse lang talaga ng mga judges iyong mga pinili nila. Basta masaya lang," he said.
Other than being a director and a scriptwriter, Tan is also known for winning the 2013 Himig Handog songwriting contest.
Tan shared that his movie is a tribute to the "Shake, Rattle, & Roll" horror franchise, having grown up watching them.
The other entries to the 2018 film festival are:
"Fantastica: The Princess, The Prince, and the Perya"
"Popo En Jack: The Puliscredibles"
"Girl in the Orange Dress"
"One Great Love"
"Mary, Mary Me"
Among those left out was Mendoza's "Alpha: The Right to Kill," which won the Special Jury Prize in the San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain last month.