Quality, not commercial films for MMFF 2016


By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent

MANILA – change has come as the recent movie line-up for the yearly Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) was released last November 18 – receiving mixed reactions throughout the entertainment industry.

This new shift in the traditional (Christmas) film festival was explained by the MMFF organizers as a “refreshing new season.”

“On a mission to celebrate the Filipino’s artistic excellence, and to champion the sustainability of the Philippine film industry, the MMFF pronounced a cinematic revolution or #reelvolution — and everyone is part of the improvement,” the MMFF statement read.

The “redesigned” board of directors of the MMFF and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced an unexpected pool of 8 films that will start on December 25 – with not much big starts to boot.

In a story by The Manila Times, this year’s film line-up was tagged as the “Magic 8” with the executive committee describing the entries as, “thorough reform of the MMFF’s selection process.”

The 8 full-length films in competition:
Vince & Kath & James
Starring: Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia and Ronnie Alonte
Director: Ted Boborol

Die Beautiful
Starring: Paolo Ballesteros
Director: Jun Robles Lana, Joel Torre, Gladys Reyes, Luis Alandy, Albie Casiño, Iza Calzado

Starring: Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman, JR Versales
Director: Erik Matti

Starring: Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Luis Alandy, Jason Abalos, RJ Agustin
Director: Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido

Sunday Beauty Queen
Starring: Hazel Perdido, Cherrie Mae Bretana, Mylyn Jacobo, Leo Selomenio, Rudelyn

Director: Babyruth Villarama Gutierrez

Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough

Starring: Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, and Joem Bascom
Director: Alvin Yapan

Saving Sally
Starring: Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos
Director: Avid Liongoren

Short Films:
• Sitsiritsit
• Birds
• Manila Scream
• Mga Bitoon sa Siyudad
• Mitatang
• Mono
• Passage of Life

MMFF said that this year’s film festival with its “refitted” board of directors choose the eight films based on built-on story, audience appeal, overall impact (40%), cinematic attributes and technical excellence (40%), global appeal (10%), and Filipino sensibility (10%).

According to The Manila Times, some of the big names and popular names and personalities present in the usual MMFF each year, Vic Sotto’s “Enteng Kabisote 10”, Vice Ganda and Coco Martin’s “Super Parental Guardian” and Richard Yap’s “Mano Po 7” did not make it to the cut and will not be shown during the Christmas season.

“When we computed all our individual scores, there was a consensus on these eight films. There was no objection among the execom members, and neither were there other issues that came about from these choices. We were all focused on the same direction, and concerned primarily on the quality of the films,” MMFF 2016 Selection Committee member Nicanor Tiongson said.

“One cannot say that there is anybody who questioned any other judge because we don’t talk about that. What we do is we judge the film we watched then we go about our respective evaluation and sign them. The results were all kept; none of us saw them until the day of the deliberations when all the submissions were averaged and checked based on our individual ratings,” Tiongson added.

As for Actress-Comedienne, director and activist Mae Paner also known as “Juana Change”, said, “For the films that didn’t make it, for sure there are 365 days in a year—what the MMFF only asks is for these wonderful eight films to be seen by movie-goers in just the two weeks allocated for the festival. I guess that’s not a lot to ask … because the commercial films can survive any regular play date,” Paner told The Manila Times.

Paner also added that not one of the committee members had any difficulty choosing for this year’s selected festival entries, “We’re happily surprised that although we come from different backgrounds, we had the same views in choosing the entries.”

“Commercial value is not really our main concern”
Friday’s announcement and line-up reveal, one of the committee members, Krip Yuson, explained that this year’s festival is concerned mostly in the “quality” of the film entries.
“Commercial value is not really our main concern. Our first concern is quality. Even if some may say the other films will make more money, that was not a concern on our part. So long as a film does not pass the evaluation, whatever the genre, it is not considered for the final cut,” Yuson explained according to The Manila Times.

“Our secondary concern is the representation of genres. As to the commercial viability of the choices we made, we firmly believe that with proper marketing, they will commercially succeed because these films make all kinds of sense, and start with a good story,” Yuson added.

Change worth the risk
According to The Philippine Star, MMFF Committee Head and University of the Philippines professor Nick Tiongson admitted that the risk is there but added that “the changes are worth it.”

“Turtles only make progress when they stick their necks out,” Tiongson said.
Another committee member, veteran journalist Crispina Belen said that MMFF could learn a lot of lessons in the changes undertaken, but she reiterated, “It’s their loss (if they won’t watch the films).”

“The MMFF needs to earn millions to help beneficiaries like the Movie Workers Welfare Fund (Mowelfund), the Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Council, the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).”

According to The Manila Times, MMFF selection Official Allan Aligue explained that they are aware of the risk, especially the traditional December 23 Parade of the Stars and the lack of big personalities to attract crowds and movie-goers.

“We are fully aware of the risk. If they wanted to do the safe, and tried and tested formula, then that doesn’t constitute change. We all know that there are issues getting bigger over the years (especially during awards nights), and to do that all over again does not keep with the basis for scoring that was formulated for the festival,” Aligue said.