A strong lineup of movies at this year's Metro Manila Film Festival could become a benchmark for future editions of the annual filmfest.
The well-received decision by organizers to include movies characterized more by its substance than commercial draw has made Liza Diño, head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), optimistic about succeeding festivals.
"It's just going to be better and better, and excited kami for next year," said Diño, adding that she is also happy with the financial returns from the festival, as opposed to some malicious suggestions that this year has been a box-office flop.
Diño said theater owners in Metro Manila have already responded to the council's request to have the filmfest run past the law-mandated 10 days and have agreed to screen the entries until January 7.
"We're very pleased. Nakita ko iyong support ng mga tao. Bago talaga siya so we can't really compare it with the past but we're very happy with the result," she said.
Diño was speaking at the sidelines of the filmfest's awards night held at the Kia Theater in Cubao Thursday, which saw "Sunday Beauty Queen," a documentary about the lives of domestic helpers in Hong Kong, become the first documentary to bag Best Picture.
Another big winner is Erik Matti's "Seklusyon," which took home seven major awards, including Best Director. Paolo Ballesteros won Best Actor for his role as a transgender in "Die Beautiful," while Irma Adlawan's portrayal in "Oro" of a barangay captain defending a small mining community from bandits landed her Best Actress.
Stealing the spotlight, however, was neophyte actor Christian Bables, who was at a loss for words after being handed the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the best friend of Ballesteros' character.
Bables, who only has two films to his name so far, broke down in tears while delivering his accepting speech, wherein he admitted that he almost gave up on his dreams of making a career out of acting.