The Metro Manila Film Festival was urged to uphold the criteria of choosing film entries as one of its 2020 entries drew flak over supposed promotion of transphobia and toxic masculinity ideals in the trailer.
The trailers for the ten official MMFF entries for this year had all been released across YouTube and Facebook on November 27.
The festival will premiere via the streaming website Upstream PH on December 25 in observance of the national government’s quarantine measures amid the still raging novel coronavirus pandemic.
Among them, Viva Films‘ “Pakboys: Takusa” recently gained buzz online.
Last Monday, Viva Films announced that its three-minute trailer accumulated over 20 million views on all social media platforms since it was posted on November 26.
“Maraming salamat sa umaapaw na suporta, mga lodi!” it said.
The comedy stars veteran actors Janno Gibbs, Dennis Padilla, Jerald Napoles, and Andrew E.. It is directed by another long-time actor-director Alfonso Tantay.
Based on the teaser, the story revolves around four married middle-aged men who continued to have illicit affairs with other women, mostly younger than them, while being afraid of their wives.
Hence, the movie’s title was derived from this plot wherein “pakboy” refers to men with many casual sexual partners and “takusa” or “takot sa asawa” or fear of spouse.
It also seemed to showcase the ’90s style of Filipino comedy with a sing-and-dance portion in the film.
The comments section of the trailer were mostly filled with excitement from Filipinos who cited the nostalgic old-school comedy films with presence of dance number.
The trailer gained over 326,000 reactions.
Not everyone, however, was stoked to see such narrative in cinemas again with some criticizing the film’s perceived “toxic masculinity” and transphobia.
In a series of tweets, Miss Trans Global 2020 Mela Franco Habijan, who’s also an actress, said that she was insulted by some of the scenes from the trailer.
Dear Direk Al Tantay, Viva Films, the creatives, and the main cast of “PakBoys: Takusa”,
Naiinsulto po ako!
I just saw the trailer of your movie. Honestly, basing from the title, I already had an idea of what it would be about — toxic masculinity.
— Mela Franco Habijan (@missmelahabijan) December 1, 2020
Habijan specifically cited the scene where Padilla appeared to be offended by sleeping with a transwoman.
“True enough, the first 10 seconds of your trailer presents a trans woman peeing… while standing. And then Dennis Padilla is seen bothered and feeling victimized by sleeping with her,” the beauty queen said.
“Nakakapanliit kasi ginagawa niyo na namang katatawanan ang pag-ihi namin! Nakakainsulto kasi ginagawa ninyong katatawanan ang katawan namin. Nakakagalit dahil pinagtatawanan ninyo ang pagiging trans woman namin,” she added.
Habijan is hopeful that the MMFF would be more gender sensitive and inclusive in choosing film entries.
“I hope the MMFF upholds their criteria on gender sensitivity and gender inclusivity. Given the transphobic scene, they will be sending a wrong message to the audience about us. Thus, this film must be disqualified from the festival,” she said.
Habijan was crowned as the first Filipino winner of the international beauty pageant for transwomen last September 12.
Another transwoman also echoed her views on Twitter.
“I am disgusted with how Viva Films perpetuated transphobia into mainstream media thru Pakboys: Takusa and used a trans woman to validate those toxic stereotypes against us,” the user wrote.
Another Twitter user, meanwhile, addressed the notion of marital affairs being showcased in the film.
“IT’S 2020 YET PEOPLE STILL MAKE FILMS ABOUT MEN CHEATING ON THEIR WIVES, MASKING IT BEHIND ‘CLASSIC OLD SCHOOL COMEDY,'” the user wrote.
The comments section under the trailer’s premiere on YouTube were also filled with criticisms, saying that the movie perpetuates transphobia and misogyny.
As of writing, both Viva Films and the MMFF organizing body have yet to comment on the criticisms against the controversial 2020 film entry.
Controversial, anticipated movie festival
MMFF had been rife with controversies over the past years wherein most film pundits and critics view the offerings as merely cash cows.
In 2019, while the lineup was mostly lauded by the general public, the comedy “The Mall, The Merrier” starring Vice Ganda and Anne Curtis-Smith was the one that came under scrutiny for the former’s constant inclusion in the festival.
In his defense, Vice Ganda argued that comedy should be a genre that should be taken seriously in the Philippines.
“Comedy is a genre. It’s a legit genre. It’s as special as drama, adventure, action. Hindi ko lang maintindihan kung bakit parang ang baba ng tingin ng tao sa comedy, na hindi siya kasing-antas ng drama. Sa Pilipinas lang siguro,” Vice said last year.