'Thy Womb' gets last-minute slot in MMFF

Posted at 10/19/12 6:41 PM

Zsa Zsa's film withdrawn from lineup

MANILA, Philippines -- After initially failing to earn a slot as an official entry to the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), the internationally acclaimed Brillante Mendoza film "Thy Womb" was announced Friday afternoon as a contender in the same film fest in place of a withdrawn entry.

"Thy Womb," directed by Brillante Mendoza, stars Aunor (above) as a Badjao midwife.

The Nora Aunor-starrer, which has earned raves after its showing in a number of international film festivals, will replace "Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang," which was to star Zsa Zsa Padilla.

Unitel Productions, Inc., the film outfit behind "Lola Basyang," on Friday confirmed its "decision to pull out [the film] from this year's MMFF," but declined to elaborate on the reason for the move.

"We would like to reserve this time to hear back from the MMFFP Executive Committee first, in due respect to their authority and the warm reception they have been giving us since we have been chosen to be part of the festival," Unitel said in a statement.

In place of "Lola Basyang," two other films were optioned as a replacement entry based on the ranking of the scripts of the submitted entries early this year.

These were Star Cinema and Skylight Films' "Tuhog" starring Eugene Domingo and Enchong Dee; and the Adolfo Alix Jr. film "My Prince Charming" starring Thai actor Mario Maurer.

Both big screen projects, however, are reportedly unable to finish filming in time for the MMFF, which premieres entries on Christmas Day.

Of the belated selection of "Thy Womb" as a contender to the local film fest, Mendoza said in a statement: "Nagkaroon na tayo ng chance finally na ipalabas ang 'Thy Womb' sa isang malaking venue sa ating sariling bansa!"

"Thy Womb," which tells the story of a Badjao midwife (Aunor) coping with her own infertility, had been submitted as an entry to the MMFF, but failed to earn a slot, as announced by the organizing group in June.

Despite the snub, the film went on to reap recognition from international award-giving bodies, including the Toronto International Film Festival and its counterpart in Venice, Italy.

At the prestigous Venice film fest, Aunor was handed the Bisato d' Oro Award for her portrayal in "Thy Womb." The trophy was conferred on the veteran actress by the Premio Della Critica Indipendente, a jury of independent film critics.

Mendoza, for his part, won the La Navicella Venezia Cinema Award, a recognition given to a film director "particularly relevant for the affirmation of human values" by the Rivista del Cinematografo, or Journal of Cinema.

Set on the islands of Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, "Thy Womb" also won the P. Nazareno Taddei Award (Special Mention), which is given to films that "express authentic human values."

Joining "Thy Womb" in this year's MMFF line-up are: "Conyo Problems" from GMA Films; "El Presidente' from Scenema Concept International, Inc.; "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. -- With a report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News