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Malcolm Conlan Shares His Thoughts On The Movie "Metro Manila".

Why is Metro Manila such an important film in Philippine cinema history?

Today I watched Metro Manila for the 11th time. You see, I have really fallen in love with this film.

From the brilliant cinematography, with scenes filmed in the incredible Banaue rice terraces which are one of the wonders of the world to the streets of Manila and the festival of the Black Nazarene, to the powerful soundtrack and outstanding acting ability of a brilliant cast, Metro Manila has really captured my heart.

The film tells the story of Oscar Ramirez, a family man in the province played by Philippine theatre actor Jake Macapagal with such brilliance. One of the best moments in the film is the delivery of a joke during an interview Oscar has for a security job. He is able to deliver it whilst being straight faced and convincing. Oscar's wife is played by upcoming actress, Althea Vega. Since the filming of Metro Manila, Althea has gone on to play other indie films including the recently screened 'Ashtray'.

Althea has a very difficult role in the film as a bar girl or 'hostess'. Her character, is forced to choose between making a terrible sacrifice which no mother should have to go through or loose her job. This really does show in an extreme manner the harsh realities of poverty in the Philippines and is truly shocking but an important part of the film. Althea was very courageous to take on such a difficult role and plays it perfectly.

The other star of the film is Ong, played by John Arcilla, another Filipino actor who has been in the industry for over 20 years in a number of movies for both GMA and ABS-CBN.

John plays the role very well and is an excellent supporting actor. The fight scene at the security van between Oscar and Ong is very powerful.

Metro Manila is a hard hitting film about the reality of life for many on Manila's streets. I do believe that it should be given the accolade of being a relevant film in Philippine history. The film was directed by British Director, Sean Ellis. I like the fact that although the film could have easily been filmed in English, Sean chose to film the entire movie on location in Manila in Tagalog. In fact Sean asked the actors to translate the script into Tagalog. This makes it such a powerful film.

This is also the only Filipino film ever to have been screened on British TV screens. The film was screened by Film Four and as well as winning an audience award in the 2013 Sundance Film festival, Metro Manila was also nominated in the Oscars as the best film in a foreign language. The film didn't win the Oscar, however this is still the first ever Filipino film to have received such international acclaim.

I would highly recommend every Filipino family to keep a copy in their DVD collection so that they would be reminded of the harsh realities of life back home and this I hope will one day encourage an OFW to return home to the Philippines to maybe run for office and hopefully make the Philippines a better place to live for our children.

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