Dingdong, Piolo share top acting award as Pinoy stars ‘invade’ Hollywood with 10 festival films

By Jennifer T. Santos
LOS ANGELES/MANILA – The Manila International Film Festival in Los Angeles has opened as the screening of ten Filipino films of the Metro Manila Film Festival started at the TCL Chinese Theaters on Hollywood Boulevard in California with top actors of participating films invading Hollywood event.
The 10 films debuted in Hollywood and other cities in US at the MIFF are: Jun Robles Lana’s “Becky and Badette,” starring Eugene Domingo and Pokwang; Lemuel C. Lorca’s “Broken Heart’s Trip” (Christian Bables); Nuel Naval’s “Family of Two (A Mother and Son Story)” (Sharon Cuneta and Alden Richards); Zig Dulay’s “Firefly” (Alessandra De Rossi and Euwenn Mikaell); Pepe Diokno’s “GomBurZa” (Enchong Dee, Dante Rivero and Cedrick Juan); King Palisoc’s “(K)Ampon” (Beauty Gonzalez and Derek Ramsay); Derick Cabrido’s “Mallari” (Piolo Pascual and Janella Salvador); Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Penduko” (Matteo Guidicelli and Kylie Verzosa); Mae Cruz-Alviar’s “Rewind” (Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes); and Conrado Peru, Rommel Penesa and Christopher de Leon’s “When I Met You in Tokyo” (Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon).
The opening was graced by Filipino actors and actresses and other movie personalities from the Philippines.
Leading the Filipino actors in Hollywood is Dingdong Dantes, star of the Philippines’ record-breaking movie “Rewind” with gross of nearly P1 billion. Dingdong Dantes graced the gold carpet for its opening night presentation at the Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) .
Other actors present at the opening were Piolo Pascual, Enchong Dee, Tirso Cruz III, who is now chairman of the Film Development Council of the Philippines; Janella Salvador, Ysabel Ortega and Christian Bables; Alden Richards,  Christopher de Leon and  John Arcilla.
“To our kababayans here in LA, do watch the MIFF,” said Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson and actor Tirso Cruz III.

On February 3 (Saturday, Manila time) the MIFF held its awards night, with a new set of actors, directors, films, and notable individuals taking home several prizes.

Zig Dulay’s Firefly and Pepe Diokno’s GomBurZa were the top winners of the night, earning Best Picture and 2nd Best Picture, respectively. Firefly also bagged the Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Screenplay awards. GomBurZa was honored as Best Cinematography, and the Audience Choice Award.

Dingdong Dantes’was named joint Best Actor for his performance as John Nuñez in Rewind with Piolo Pascual, who won for Mallari.

Ironically, Rewind failed to receive an award at the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival’s Gabi ng Parangal. Despite ending up empty-handed during the MMFF awards night, Rewind managed to become the Philippines’ highest-grossing film of all time as of January 26, raking in a total of P889 million worldwide and the revenue is expected to cross P1 billion.

Here is the full list of winners:

  • Best Picture: Firefly
  • 2nd Best Picture: GomBurZa
  • Best Director: Zig Dulay, Firefly
  • Best Actor: Dingdong Dantes, Rewind
  • Best Actor: Piolo Pascual, Mallari
  • Best Actress: Vilma Santos, When I Met You in Tokyo
  • Best Supporting Actress: Alessandra de Rossi, Firefly
  • Best Supporting Actor: Pepe Herrera, Rewind
  • Best Screenplay: Angeli Atienza, Firefly
  • Best Cinematography: Carlo Mendoza, GomBurZa
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Hilda Koronel
  • Special Jury Prize: Becky & Badette
  • Audience Choice Award: GomBurZa
  • Trailblazer Awards: Romando Artes, Rochelle Ona, and Mark Dacascos
Pascual stars in “Mallari,” one of the 10 films that are being screened in Hollywood while Enchong stars in the movie “Gomburza,” the second best film in the MIFF.
Also present at the opening ceremonies were Beauty Gonzales, who co-stars with Derek Ramsey in “(K)ampon.” They invited the Fil-Ams to watch the screenings.

In a statement, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) said the ten movies being shown are the same that premiered during the most recent MMFF.

“These films will likewise be given awards that are separate and independent from the MMFF awards given last December 2023. Filipino Americans who are accomplished in the film industry will serve as jury members and will decide the winners in nine categories,” the MMFF said.

The awards will be given during a gala at the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Boulevard and include a Best Picture award that will come with up to US$100,000 worth of camera rental equipment plus support from other vendors in the film industry.

“The package is valued overall at US$200,000 with the support of industry partners, Atlas Lens Co., BlackOps Studios Asia, CMB Film Services, Inc., and Myriad Entertainment USA,” it said.

In addition, the winners of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay will each receive the latest version of Final Draft film editing software valued at US$250 through Birns & Sawyer.

“The two other MIFF recognitions are the Audience Award to be voted on by the MIFF moviegoers at the screenings which will run through February 1, and the Monty Manibog Lifetime Achievement Award which is set to be given to actress Hilda Koronel,” it said.

The remaining awards are the Special Jury Prize, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Cinematography.

The MIFF jurors are Marie Jamora, one of the first Filipinos in the Directors Guild of America (DGA); Mari Acevedo, CEO of Birns & Sawyer; Leah Anova, a director of photography; Reggie Lee, a TV, film, and Broadway actor; David Maquiling, academic and artistic director of the School of Cinematic Arts Summer Program at the University of Southern California; and Sumalee Montano, a television and film actress.

MMFF overall chair and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) acting chair Don Artes said the MIFF would be vital in uplifting Filipino films and a testament to their “exceptional and world-class” quality.

“I am confident that the success of the MMFF in Manila last December can be replicated through the support of our Filipino community in LA and the international audience,” Artes said.