GUIDE: The Manila Film Festival 2023

The festival aims to showcase a wide variety of local films created by students from different universities, with winning entries from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Arellano University – Pasig, Adamson University, University of The Philippines, and University of Makati.

Regular showing dates will be from June 16 to 24 at the SM Manila Cinema in celebration of the Araw ng Maynila.

Check out the official entries of the first ‘The Manila Film Festival’ below:

CTRL-F-ESC (Rated R-16)

From Adamson University
Directed by Justin B. Bobier
Starring Kych Minemoto, Sue Prado, Leilani Kate Yalung, Yul Servo, Francheska Manalastas, Rina Napura, James Guanlao

The film is entitled “CTRL-F-ESC” which also means “Find To Escape” inspired by the meeting codes used during online classes. The CTRL + F and ESC are both different command key shortcuts. Ctrl + F is used when you want to find words quickly. On the other hand, Esc key is used to close a pop-up window or to cancel the current process on a running program.

Combining these command keys strengthens the story of the protagonist, Angelo, who seeks the easiest solution for his problem, which is to find an escape from his exhausting life journey caused by academic pressure, peers, and his toxic environment.


From University of the Philippines / University of Makati
Directed by Cess Cruz
Starring Lance Raymundo, Gerlaine Silva, Mary Sharapova, Oliver Lacson

The story happened during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown while the climate emergency ravages the world.

Amidst, the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Daniel Castro, a middle-aged virologist/epidemiologist who also is a climate change activist, discovers a life-saving method in managing severe and critical cases of COVID-19 infection as the whole world waits for a vaccine. However, his colleagues reject his theories and instead subject him to persecutions.

He finds help from an old May-December affair flame Melissa del Rosario, a young TV reporter as they also struggle to recover from their broken-heartedness due to a third party, in the person of Arabella Mariano, a movie actress and beauty queen.

As the title suggests, their career successes due to their broken hearts pave a way for the whole world to benefit in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency.

Dr. Daniel won the Nobel Prize for Microbiology on his work on Dexamethasone vis-à-vis COVID-19 infection while Melissa got the George Peabody Award for Journalism for advocating climate justice for the Philippines to the entire world.

In the end, the movie will titillate the viewers as the two protagonists get back in each other’s arms.


From Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Directed by Carlo James Buan
Starring Larizze Ann J. Eco, Khaleil Patrian A. Co, Samantha Faith Valdez Batula, Stephanie Kayla L. Quitlong

Jhonabelle’s dream of attending a prestigious university is shattered when her aunt abandons her and her brother, Jhanjhan leaving them with nothing but a small sum of money. Struggling to make ends meet, Jhonabelle sets aside her aspirations and looks for a job to sustain their daily needs. But her brother’s health takes a turn for the worse when he is diagnosed with Leukemia, leaving Jhonabelle on the verge of giving up.

Desperate to earn money, she turns to vlogging and creates prank videos that go viral, allowing her to raise funds for her brother’s treatment. However, her world comes crashing down when someone steals all the money she saved. Despite seeking help from the authorities and her fans, she is left helpless and alone with some mocking her thinking that the incident is just another desperate to get views.

THE UNCANNY (Rated R-13)

From Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Directed by Kyle Abay-Abay
Starring Zyrish Quierrez and Ice Lee

Jax de Jesus, a 27 year old screenwriter, believes that it’s the only thing that she is holding on to. When she experiences a great writer’s block, she meets Kei Suarez, a 29 year old architect who is renovating their ancestral manor in the mountain city. Having a mutual admiration and bond in their first encounter, Kei invites Jax for at least one week’s staycation on their manor to refresh her mind to be inspired again in writing.

As the two spend their time together, a series of unexplained encounters, mysterious events, and unimaginable occurrences begin transpiring inside the halls and beneath the walls of the manor, leading them to weigh their consciousness and define the boundary between reality and illusion, truth and lies, good and evil.

UNSPOKEN (Rated R-16)

From Arellano University
Directed by Daniella Javierto
Starring Lara Lagdaan, David King Escio, Stephen Legaspi, Irish Vistan

Unheard inner voices, unsaid thoughts, feelings, and emotions that weren’t expressed, overlooked pain and suffering.

The last page of a beautiful tragedy about love and life, but will it ever free the soul of the broken past and correct the truth of tomorrow? Will the cacophonous rhythm of their endless yearning for bliss be heard if these words are left . . . Unspoken.

The Manila Film Festival will run from June 16 to June June 24 at SM Cinema Manila in Manila City. Ticket is priced at P310, you can also buy your tickets at

Check out our coverage of The Manila Film Festival opening night below:

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