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‘Sunday Beauty Queen’ is MMFF Best Picture

01 January 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap
Hong Kong workers Mylyn Jacobo, Global Alliance chair
Leo Selomenio and Hazel Perdido  pose with Babyruth
Villarama (in blue) and actor John Lloyd Cruz (back) at the MMFF rites.

A documentary about the life and struggles of overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong has won the two top prizes at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

“Sunday Beauty Queen”, which was directed by Babyruth Villarama and took all of four years to make, was adjudged as Best Picture and winner of the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award at the 2016 MIFF Gabi ng Parangal held on Dec. 29 at the Kia Theatre in Quezon City.

The film also made history for being the first documentary to have won the top prize in the annual festival.

It was sweet vindication for the film which was pulled out of several cinemas after just one day because of low patronage.

Villarama, who took breaks from finishing a degree in the United Kingdom so she could come to Hong Kong to film the documentary, said in a CNN Philippines interview that “Sunday Beauty Queen” was no escapist movie.

“Monday to Saturday, they don’t have a life, they’re like robots,” she said of OFWs in Hong Kong. But on Sunday, they transform. This is how they want to live. These are dignified people. They need to have something for themselves,” Villarama said in the interview.

Villarama was accompanied on stage to accept the award by the three OFWs who were featured in the film: Global Alliance chair Leo Selomenio, who is a veteran organizer of beauty pageants in Hong Kong, and perennial contestants Hazel Perdido and Mylyn Jacobo.

Asked for a reaction on the big win, Selomenio told The SUN in a private message that being on stage for the MIFF awards night was an experience beyond expectation.

“The feeling is overwhelming and I am so overjoyed. This film is an eye opener for everyone na ang pag-organize ng event dapat may kabuluhan. I am so proud to be a part of this film and proud to be a leader. All (our) efforts and sacrifices paid off.”

Of the three, Perdido is the only one who will no longer go back to Hong Kong as she has gone back to her hometown of General Santos City for good.

Before the awards night, they were all given a real pre-pageant treat by going for a fitting session with local couturier Martin Bautista who provided their outfits for the awards night for free.
After the big win, they all got another treat when they joined the filmmakers for a big celebration that Selomenio said lasted until 5 in the morning.

Returning to Hong Kong, Selomenio will try to achieve another dream, by helping bring the SBQ to local cinemas so those whose lives are so eloquently told in the documentary could also watch it on the big screen.

Before leaving for Manila, Selomenio discussed the plan with The SUN, saying Villarama was already eyeing commercial cinemas for the film’s Hong Kong run.

Consul General Bernardita Catalla who was later on looped in on the plan said she was open to the idea, but added it would be better if the movie won an award so it would be easier to convince the Hong Kong government to help provide a venue.

SBQ’s big win could very well indicate it is, indeed, coming to Hong Kong soon.

Here is the full list of winners of the MMFF 2016:
Best Picture: Sunday Beauty Queen
Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award: Sunday Beauty Queen
Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award: Oro
Best Director: Erik Matti, Seklusyon
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Paolo Ballesteros, Die Beautiful
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Irma Adlawan, Oro
Best Ensemble Cast: Oro
Special Jury Prize: Rhed Bustamante, Seklusyon
Best Screenplay: Seklusyon
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Christian Bables, Die Beautiful
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Phoebe Walker, Seklusyon
Best Cinematography: Seklusyon
Best Sound Design: Seklusyon
Best Theme Song: ”Dominus Miserere” Seklusyon
Best Editing: Sunday Beauty Queen
Best Musical Score: Saving Sally
Best Production Design: Seklusyon
Best Float: Die Beautiful
42nd MMFF My Most Favorite Film: Die Beautiful
Children’s Choice Award: Saving Sally, Sunday Beauty Queen, Vince & Kath & James
Male Celebrity of the Night: Ronnie Alonte
Female Celebrity of the Night: Rhian Ramos
Short Film – Best Screenplay: Mitatang
Short Film – Special Jury Prize: Manila Scream
Short Film – Best Picture: EJK
Short Film – Best Work for Children: Passage of Life
Best Short Film Director: Jarell Serencio for Mga Bitoon sa Siyudad

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