MMFF 2016 Review: Seklusyon

You know an Erik Matti film when you see one: it has action, a social issue, and a moody atmosphere. Seklusyon has all these and a whole lot of scares.

Matti’s Seklusyon is set in 1947, and follows four young deacons as they go on their seclusion, a one-week retreat in a remote location. It’s a ritual done by aspiring priests so they can stay away from the devil’s temptations, which is known to be strongest on the last seven days before they enter priesthood. They are supposed to live in peace, until a young healer named Anghela Sta. Ana and her companion Madre Cecilia join them. Soon, the deacons experience supernatural events, with evil forces preying on their deepest fears and darkest secrets.

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MMFF 2016 Review: Vince & Kath & James

Vince & Kath & James operates on a premise that we’ve seen a million times: guy is in love with girl, but girl is in love with guy’s best friend (in this case, cousin). This movie could have failed because of its old material, but shines because of its stars and their undeniable chemistry.

Theodore Boborol’s Vince & Kath & James follows Vince (Joshua Garcia), an engineering student in love with his classmate Kath (Julia Barretto). When Kath wins the Mister and Miss Engineering pageant, his cousin Vince (Ronnie Alonte) falls for her, and asks Vince to send anonymous messages to flirt with her on his behalf.

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MMFF 2016 Review: Die Beautiful

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Die Beautiful is a heartwarming film, wrapped in a light package containing heavy and emotional truths. What a rewarding watch.

Jun Lana’s Die Beautiful tells the story of Trisha Echeverria (Paolo Ballesteros), a transwoman who makes a living by joining beauty pageants. When she dies, her best friend Barbs (Christian Bables) arranges for her body to have different looks each day. The film then shuttles between the highs and lows of her young life, from holding makeshift pageants at home to losing her virginity, then her family, and finding true love.

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MMFF 2016 Review: Oro

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Alvin Yapan’s Oro is based on the true story of the Gata 4 Massacre, where four gold miners in Camarines Sur were killed by members of the Sagip Kalikasan Task Force, who took a small mining town hostage. It’s a fascinating look into the mining industry and how vested interests can turn deadly.

In Oro, we are introduced to a small community led by the well-loved Kapitana (Irma Adlawan), with the help of Elmer (Joem Bascon), a miner. Their modest yet lucrative industry is disrupted when a group of environmentalists force them to cease their operations, with orders from a governor who claim that it is destroying the ecosystem. However, the environmentalists take advantage of the amount of gold by mining for it themselves, later forcing the residents to do it under threat of violence.

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MMFF 2016 Review: Saving Sally

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Avid Liongoren’s Saving Sally took 10 years to make, but it’s worth the wait. It’s a fun, quirky, and relatable watch, and a film I would love to see over and over again.

Saving Sally tells the story of Marty (Enzo Marcos), who is in love with his best friend Sally (Rhian Ramos). It’s a story we’ve heard (and maybe experienced) many times, but what sets this apart is how it was filmed. Marcos, Ramos, and the rest of the cast are real, but the set is mostly animation. They are also accompanied by 2D animated monsters, who only Marty can see. This alone makes it worth seeing, as the world Liongoren creates is incredible.

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MMFF 2016 Review: Sunday Beauty Queen

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Baby Ruth Villarama’s Sunday Beauty Queen offers a poignant look into the lives of domestic helpers in Hong Kong, and it works as a documentary because it tells their story honestly and without frills.

The domestic helpers work six days a week, with Sundays as their day off. Instead of resting, they gather to join beauty pageants. Leo, the organizer, says they use it to raise funds to help their fellow domestic helpers who are in need, but a deeper (and more obvious) reason is that it promotes camaraderie and a sense of home for those living thousands of miles away from their families.

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