Who will win in the first MIFF awards in Hollywood? | Inquirer

Who will win awards at the first Manila International Film Festival in Hollywood?

MIFF jurors revealed, more stars confirmed
/ 03:51 PM January 28, 2024

As the Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) starts tomorrow, Jan. 29, the exciting first overseas edition of the long-running Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) revealed its jury members and announced that more stars are confirmed to attend from the Philippines.

The 2024 MIFF prizes will be given in a star-studded closing night awards gala on Feb. 1 at the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Blvd. The event caps the MIFF whose screenings of the 10 entries in the recent Metro Manila Film Festival will run through Feb. 1 at the TCL Chinese Theaters on Hollywood Blvd.

Alden Richards

Alden Richards, who co-stars with Sharon Cuneta in Nuel Naval’s “Family of Two (A Mother and Son Story),” will join the biggest gathering of Filipino stars in Los Angeles. Photo from Gian Barbarona

The jury, composed of accomplished Filipino Americans in film, will decide the winners in nine categories. The MIFF awards are separate and independent from the MMFF awards given in the Philippines last December.

The following are the MIFF awards categories:

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Best Picture – The winner will be given the opportunity to make a US-based feature film co-produced by Birns & Sawyer, which will award up to $100,000 worth of camera rental equipment with the support of other industry gear vendors. Founded in 1954, Birns & Sawyer has served filmmakers in Hollywood for over 60 years. With Mari Acevedo at the helm, Birns & Sawyer believes in lifting up the next generation of Filipino content creators, filmmakers and their stories.

The co-producing package of Birns & Sawyer is valued overall at $200,000 with the support of industry partners, Atlas Lens Co., BlackOps Studios Asia, CMB Film Services, Inc. and Myriad Entertainment USA.

Special Jury Prize – A special award to be decided by the jury, given to a film that deserves recognition.


Best Director

Best Actor

Best Actress


Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

Best Screenplay

Best Cinematography

Through a partnership with Birns & Sawyer, the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay winners will each receive the latest version of Final Draft software (a $250 value).

Reggie Lee

Reggie Lee starred as Sgt. Wu on NBC’s hit sci-fi police drama Grimm. CONTRIBUTED

The two other MIFF honors are the Audience Award, voted on by MIFF moviegoers at the screenings, given to a movie that gets the highest score, and the Monty Manibog Lifetime Achievement Award (Hilda Koronel, previously announced).

The distinguished MIFF judges are:

Marie Jamora (head of the jury)

Marie Jamora is one of the first Filipinos in the Directors Guild of America (DGA), having directed episodes of “Queen Sugar” (OWN), “Fire Country” (CBS), “The Resident” (FOX), GREASE: “Rise of the Pink Ladies” (Paramount+), and both seasons of “The Cleaning Lady” (FOX). She was an executive producer and the director of both seasons of “Family Style” (HBO Max).

Mari Acevedo

In a pivotal moment in the 70-year history of Birns & Sawyer, one of the oldest and most well-known motion picture camera rental and sales companies in Hollywood, Mari Acevedo led the transition to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 2019, empowering the dedicated team that contributed to the company’s success. The subsequent year marked another historic milestone as Marie assumed the position of CEO, becoming the first female leader in the company’s impressive 66-year history.

Mari Acevedo

Mari Acevedo marked a historic milestone at Birns & Sawyer when she assumed the position of CEO, becoming the first female leader in the company’s 66-year history. CONTRIBUTED

Leah Anova
Leah Anova is a director of photography whose numerous projects have received significant recognition, including her latest feature documentary film, “Everybody,” directed by Academy Award nominee, Julie Cohen, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival andwas distributed by Focus Features. “Everybody” was shortlisted by NYDOC for the 2023 Oscars. The film is currently playing on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, and Peacock.

Reggie Lee
Reggie Lee starred as Sgt. Wu on NBC’s hit sci-fi police drama “Grimm.” Most recently, Reggie starred as Head Deputy District Attorney Thomas Choi on CBS’s “All Rise” and as Angelo Soto on Netflix’s “Lincoln Lawyer.” Before Grimm, he was best known for his role as Secret Service Agent Bill Kim on the popular FOX show “Prison Break.”

Coming up, Reggie can be seen in the new season of “CSI: Vegas” on CBS as Undersheriff Bobby Zhao. He has also recurred and guest starred in countless TV shows and has performed on Broadway.

David Maquiling
David Maquiling made his feature film debut as the Writer/Director of “Too Much Sleep,” for which he won an Independent Spirit Award nomination, was featured in Variety’s annual “Someone to Watch” article, and earned the IFP Project Involve Fellowship. David was recently appointed the Academic and Artistic Director of the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) Summer Program at USC. He is also a faculty member at SCA, where he is the Lead Faculty for USC’s SCA Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) Filmmaking Workshop for underrepresented high school students.

Sumalee Montano
Sumalee Montano was originally an investment banker and is now an actor-producer. Onscreen, she has worked extensively in film and television, including series regular and leading film roles. She got her start in ER, recurring as the first Filipina nurse, Duvata Mahal. Sumalee currently stars as Tala Bayani in “The Deal,” a mother-daughter sci-fi story that she based on her own Filipina mom and produced with Dean Devlin. She has produced or executive produced eight films to date, including “Nanny,” Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance 2022.

MIFF will see the biggest gathering of Filipino movie stars and filmmakers in Los Angeles. MIFF, whose mission is to showcase, promote and help uplift Philippine cinema, has invited the filmmakers and stars behind the 10 films. The talents from the Philippines will attend various MIFF events, including Q&As and personal appearances at select screenings, at the TCL Chinese Theatres.

John Arcilla

John Arcilla is the first Filipino actor to win the Volpi Cup for best actor in the 2021 Venice Film Festival for Erik Matti’s “On the Job: The Missing 8”. CONTRIBUTED

The 10 films debuting in America at 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).

In a partial list of confirmed talents coming from Manila, John Arcilla, the first Filipino actor to win the Volpi Cup for best actor in the 2021 Venice Film Festival (for Erik Matti’s “On the Job: The Missing 8”), Piolo Pascual, Eugene Domingo, Dingdong Dantes, Alden Richards, Enchong Dee, Beauty Gonzalez, Janella Salvador, Ysabel Ortega, Christian Bables and Christopher de Leon lead the talents who will grace the screenings and Q&As of the 10 films, the closing night awards gala and other events in the five-day film festival.

Also scheduled to attend the MIFF are the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ (FDCP) Tirso Cruz III and Jose Javier Reyes, chairman and consultant, respectively. FDCP is the national film agency offering incentive programs to international co-productions and offshore productions in the Philippines.

The MMFF will be represented by Romando “Don” Artes, chairman; Tim Orbos, executive committee member; Rochelle Macapili-Ona, executive director; Irene Jose, executive committee member and COO of The Araneta Group’s entertainment unit; Boots Anson Roa-Rodrigo, actress and team member; and Noel Ferrer, spokesperson.

The LA-based MIFF founders are Omen Ortiz, chairman; Ebradu Udarbe, president; Lisa Lew, executive producer; Ruben Nepales and Janet Nepales, media relations consultants; and Celia Abaya Dy, ticketing manager. Also on the MIFF team are Leo Dela Cruz, chief financial officer; Erickson Ilog, chief operations officer; Ron Ramores, chief marketing officer; Cindy Sison, consultant; and Meriden Angeles, coordinating producer.

Lew, a multiple Daytime Emmy-winning Filipina producer, is producing the closing night awards gala at the DGA which will also be graced by Filipino American stars, filmmakers and creatives. The gala features a red carpet, cocktails, an awards show and a dinner/after-party.

Other events promoting collaboration and cooperation between the Philippines’ filmmakers and Hollywood and beyond are also scheduled by MIFF.

The complete screening schedule and ticket information are available on MIFF’s website.

The TCL Chinese Theatres is located on the third level of Ovation Hollywood (formerly Hollywood & Highland), 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. The DGA is located at 7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046.

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TAGS: actors, entertainment, Film Awards, Metro Manila International Film Festival
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