Last week, I talked about Star Wars: The Force Awakens and how I’m so envious of the new batch of fans its going to bring in. My jealousy springs up because my generation got the terrible Prequels but this generation gets this gorgeous Star Wars film! I’ve already watched it a couple of times in the regular movie theater because its highly re-watchable. I still want to watch it again but, starting Christmas Day, I can’t just go to my local cinema to watch it anymore. I have to go to an IMAX to watch The Force Awakens because of the Metro Manila Film Festival.
Okay, so for those outside the Philippines, I guess I have to explain the annual tradition of the Metro Manila Film Festival… or just Metro Manila Film Fest… or shortened even more to MMFF. The MMFF is an annual “event” in the Philippines when only locally produced films are shown. Movie studios submit entries to the MMFF board so that they can be included in the prestigious 6-8 films that can only be shown in the Metro Manila area for the next two weeks starting on Christmas day. Essentially, it is an incredibly big deal here.
This year’s batch of films pretty much is the same from previous years. You have a couple of romantic comedies, several horror films, a crime drama and one really serious film that tries to be more than a vehicle to capitalize on the lack of foreign films. But you know what kind of movie is missing each and every time the MMFF starts on Christmas Day? The one style of movie that is always oddly never made during the holiday season?
A Christmas film.
I mean, am I the only one who finds it strange that we get several horror movies every time the MMFF rolls in, which are more suited for Halloween I may add, yet, during this really special time, yet we don’t get any movies about the time we hold the film festival? Oh, there are probably a few of them that do pop up during some of the prior years. But, you have to admit, Christmas movies are few and far in-between.
I really find it amazing that movie studios don’t try to capitalize on the season to produce a good Christmas film. I think movie studios in other countries like the United States especially jump at the chance to try and make that new holiday classic that people love to watch over and over again. And they have! Over and over again!
They have venerable classics like those claymation films of Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer as well as animated film such as How The Grinch Stole Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas. These are children’s animated films that are aired on television each and every year! It’s become a Christmas tradition to watch them every year because they bring so much joy to both young children who just will watch them because they’re cartoons as well as adults that grew up watching them and remember their childhood memories nostalgically. That’s pretty amazing, especially if you consider that those animated classics are roughly 50 years old!
There are also more examples. There are classic Hollywood films like It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story and A Christmas Carol, which all focus on the Christmas season in one way or another. There are also more modern examples like Home Alone, Elf, Arthur Christmas, The Polar Express, The Santa Clause and Jingle All The Way (I love Jingle All The Way!). That’s just a small smattering of the selection Hollywood has made to commemorate the season of giving and goodwill towards man!
Yet, the Philippines, a country that loves celebrating Christmas, cannot seem to muster up one memorable film about the holiday? And it’s not like it’s terribly difficult to think of a few ideas or stories that would make a really good Filipino Christmas movie. While writing this post I actually thought of more than just a few story ideas! And they would all celebrate the Filipino identity as well!
We can have a drama/comedy focusing on a group of call center agents (the BPO industry in the Philippines is really big) who have to work the graveyard shift on Christmas Eve and how they deal with celebrating the holidays away from their families. You can have a comedy about a man/woman trying to find her way home to the province with a bunch of gifts for her family back home but she loses his/her bus ticket so he/she has to find alternative modes of transportation. You can have a drama about an Oversees Contract Worker who has to spend Christmas alone in another country.
I also thought of other movies like a drama all about a family who lost their house and all their belongings because of a typhoon that hit the country and are struggling to have a good Christmas despite the hardship. I also have a idea for another romantic comedy where a boy and a girl accidentally pick up each others packages/gifts and have to search the shopping center so they can get the correct stuff. And, if you want to be experimental, I have an indy film idea where is simply focuses on a bunch of friends stuck in the extremely terrible gridlock the country suffers through everyday… but is much worse during the Christmas season.
I thought up all of those ideas up there in one hour. One freaking hour! And yet the Philippine movie industry can’t seem to think of a single Christmas themed movie for the Metro Manila Film Festival? I guess that’s because the Metro Manila Film Festival, which was created to celebrate Philippine cinema and film making in the country, isn’t focused on that anymore. It’s more about making money. You know what? I think I’ll talk about that next time!
Are there any memorable Filipino films about Christmas? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!