If the inaugural summer edition of Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) were to hand over awards like a college graduation ceremony, Jun Robles Lana’s cathartic psychological thriller feature “About Us But Not About Us” would be the batch valedictorian—no room for opposition. The film (which was written in only three days) swept the recently concluded Gabi ng Parangal with flying colors, bagging 10 out of 17 trophies, including the coveted Best Picture award.
In addition, Jun won Best Director and Best Screenplay, while lead actors Romnick Sarmenta and Elijah Canlas respectively took home the Best Actor award and the Special Jury Prize. “About Us But Not About Us” also dominated the technical categories: Neil Daza for Best Cinematography, Lawrence Ang for Best Editing, Armand de Guzman for Best Sound, Teresa Barrozo for Best Musical Score, and Marxie Maolen Fadul for Best Production Design.
“This is amazing. Thank you to the MMFF jury for embracing something that’s new and different. A big shoutout and love to my brilliant team without whom my vision for this film would not have been attained,” wrote Jun in an Instagram post. And true enough, the film’s impressive haul at the Gabi ng Parangal isn’t just a win for the creative geniuses behind it; it also signals a shift in the local film industry.
For those who have no clue what the hype is about, “About Us But Not About Us” is a departure from the usual MMFF fare—which tends to be more lighthearted and commercially-driven. It has a minimalist approach to filmmaking: two lead characters, one location, and a tight script that focuses on character development and introspection. It defies traditional genre conventions, making it a standout in a sea of formulaic rom-coms and action-packed flicks that have been dominating Philippine cinema for the longest time.
But of course, Jun’s “About Us But Not About Us” wasn’t the lone star of the night. Second Best Picture “Love You Long Time” by JP Habac won Best Float, while third Best Picture “Here Comes the Groom” by Chris Martinez bagged three more trophies: Jury Prize, Keempee de Leon for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Kaladkaren for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (and FYI, she’s the first trans woman to receive the award).
Brillante Mendoza’s “Apag” also earned two awards—Gladys Reyes for Best Actress in a Leading Role and “Paralaya” by Andi Alviz for Best Original Theme Song.
Still from “About Us But Not About Us”