More screening of ‘Firefly,’ ‘GomBurZa’ sought after MMFF 2023 wins

December 28, 2023 - 5:42 PM
Poster of the GomBurZa film; Poster of the Firefly film (GomBurZaFilm/Facebook; gmapinoytv/Facebook)

Filipinos called for more screenings of two Metro Manila Film Festival 2023 films  nationwide following the accolades they received at the MMFF Gabi ng Parangal on Wednesday.

Coming-of-age family film “Firefly” and historical drama “GomBurZa” won big at the awarding night of the annual film fest held at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City on December 27.

“Firefly” won the Best Picture award, while “GomBurZa” bagged the most number of trophies. It was also hailed the second Best Picture.

“Firefly” is directed by Zig Dulay, who is also behind the acclaimed historical drama series “Maria Clara At Ibarra.”

It stars Alessandra de Rossi and child actor Euwenn Mikaell, who won Best Child Performer.

The coming-of-age drama also won Best Screenplay for Angeli Atienza.

“Firefly” is an offering from GMA Pictures that follows a young boy, Tonton (Euwenn Mikaell), navigating the ups and downs of growing up.

His story is told creatively through his imagination as he quests to fulfill his promise to his mother (Alessandra de Rossi) by reaching the Isle of the Fireflies.

READ: Chasing sunlight: MMFF entry ‘Firefly’ filmed using natural light

Meanwhile, “GomBurZa” is directed by Pepe Diokno, who also co-wrote the film’s screenplay. He also co-produced Lav Diaz’s Berlin Silver Bear winner “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hinagpis.”

The historical film was recognized as the second Best Picture and bagged other awards like Best Director for Diokno, Best Actor for Cedrick Juan who played Padre Jose Burgos, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and the Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award.

“GomBurZa” focuses on what led to the death of three secular priests, Mariano Gomes (Gom), Jose Burgos (Bur), and Jacinto Zamora (Za), whose martyrdom led to the first stirrings of the historic Philippine Revolution. It also shows the result of their public execution.

The last novel of national hero Jose Rizal, the “El Filibusterismo” or “The Subversive,” is dedicated to them.

The three priests were among those who voiced out unequal treatment towards secular Filipino clergy in favor of Spanish friars during the Spanish Colonial Era.

They were accused, tried and sentenced to death through garrote by the Spanish authorities on Feb. 17, 1872.

“GomBurZa” stars Cedrick, Dante Rivero (Gomes) and Enchong Dee (Zamora).

READ: ‘Tagos sa puso’: Chel Diokno ‘proud dad’ after watching ‘GomBurZa’ directed by son Pepe

Filipinos expressed hopes that cinemas nationwide would open more slots for these award-winning films amid the praises and recognitions they are receiving.

“Ta’s ang onti ng cinemas both for GombBurZa and Firefly… manifesting more cinemas,” a Pinoy wrote on the X (formerly Twitter) platform.

“These films deserve to be seen in more cinemas all over the country. Congratulations, Firefly and Gomburza!” another user said.

“To all 10 MMFF films, thank you for the effort of bringing us back into the cinemas for movies worthy of our time and money. It’s a revival!” she added.

“I think it’s pretty nice that both GOMBURZA and FIREFLY — two films that have been struggling to play in theaters — are the top two films at this year’s #MMFF2023,” actor and film programmer Jason Tan Liwag said.

“But that begs the question: Can’t the festival intervene so their entries have proper cinema distribution?” he added.

“With the win of ‘Firefly’ and ‘GomBurZa’ tonight, hope that more people would want to watch these movies. #MMFF2023,” another Pinoy commented.

Dulay also expressed his glee during the MMFF awards night itself.

“Yehey! Dadami na ang aming sinehan,” the “Firefly” director said upon receiving the Best Picture award.

“Firefly” and “GomBurZa” initially had a limited number of screenings nationwide, with cinemas showing more slots for romances and dramas with more well-known actors.

Former vice president Leni Robredo was among those who clamored for more “GomBurZa” screenings, noting it was initially not showing in her hometown.

As of Thursday, nine cinemas have added “GomBurZa” to its screenings.

It is now showing in 28 theaters in Metro Manila, seven theaters in Luzon, seven theaters in Visayas and four theaters in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, 15 cinemas have added “Firefly” to their screenings.

The movie is showing in 37 theaters in Metro Manila, 19 theaters in Luzon and 14 theaters in Visayas and Mindanao.


Manila Bulletin said that the “Firefly” film “has a lot of heart, with a strong emphasis on family.”

“It is a tribute to mothers and their sacrifices for their children and the long-term effect a mother’s love for their child can have,” AJ Siytangco, reviewer from the news outlet, wrote.

“It has enough depth and complexity to keep a thinking person engrossed and enough fantasy elements and funny moments to entertain kids,” he added.

Meanwhile, public historian Ambeth Ocampo said the “GomBurZa” film “is more than mere ‘infotainment,'” adding that “it gives depth and context to the names learned by rote in school.”

“‘GomBurZa’ inspires because it is a call to action, it remains relevant to us today because things don’t have to be the way they are,” he said.

“Unlike other historical films that had me counting minutes to the end wishing they would kill the hero so I can go home, this one kept me on the edge of my seat till the end,” Ocampo said in his review.

ALSO READ: ‘GomBurZa’ review: Empowering tribute to Filipino martyrs