‘Defend’ your best bet at the 2017 MMFF

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From left: Joanna Ampil, Paulo Avelino and Rachel Alejandro in “Ang Larawan”

At Mama Nene Vera-Perez’s recent centennial tribute at Sampaguita Gardens, we made it a point to ask “Ang Larawan the Movie” coproducer Girlie Rodis about the much-awaited film’s preview prospects.

She said that it could be screened before the end of the year, so we requested an invitation to its earliest preview, because we believed that it was one of the most important films of the year, and wanted to sing its praises way in advance, because it deserved to be seen by many film buffs.

Next we heard, however, the film version of Nick Joaquin’s “Larawan” was reported to have not made the grade for inclusion in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, edged out by some “more commercial” productions.

All the more reason, then, for those preview screenings to be held, even as we hope and pray that the unenlightened MMFF decision can still be reversed.

Yes, “Larawan” can be shown to great acclaim any time of the year, but an MMFF slot assures it of far wider viewership and artistic influence and impact, which the production richly deserves.

Anne Curtis in “Buy Bust”

We’re particularly bullish about “Larawan” because, through the decades, we’ve enjoyed Joaquin’s signature stage play in all of its sequential versions: As Lamberto V. Avellana’s original film in the ’60s, as a play topbilling Lolita Rodriguez and Rita Gomez, the “Larawan” stage musical by Rolando Tinio with songs by Ryan Cayabyab, etc.

In fact, if distant memory serves, when Mauro Avena was tapped to do the translation for the first staging in Filipino by Peta of the original English playscript, he asked us what the translation’s title should be, and we suggested “Larawan.”

The stage musical version of “Larawan” was a memorable production in its own right, with many topnotch artists collaborating to make it a triumph, so we’ve been looking forward to its film version, produced by Celeste Legaspi and Girlie and directed by the similarly acclaimed Loy Arcenas, for a long time now—hence our special request when we spoke to Girlie.

Atom Araullo (left) and Max Collins in “Citizen Jake”
photo by Jeffrey Tictic

We trust that it will be a memorable production in its own right—so, this early, we’re urging all film and musical buffs to “defend” its inclusion in the 2017 MMFF, while there’s still time.

While we’re at it, we urge people who believe in the other “passed up” entries to fight for their inclusion.

They include the Anne Curtis starrer, Erik Matti’s “Buy Bust”; Mike de Leon’s “Citizen Jake,” topbilling Atom Araullo; Raya Martin’s “Smaller and Smaller Circles”; Julius Alfonso’s “Deadma Walking”; Perry Escaño’s “Ang Sikreto ng Piso”; Perci Intalan’s “My Fairy Tail Love Story”; and Antoinette Jadaone’s “Ang Bomba ni Ginger Paloma.”

Nonie Buencamino (left) and Sid Lucero in “Smaller and Smaller Circles”
photo courtesy of TBA

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