In the late second quarter of 2016, Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) announced the refashioning of its selection criteria from a “box-office appeal” to a “value-system” significance. A so-called radical shift to revolutionized the Philippine ‘taste’ in the movie industry. Is this shift, after all, a big failure to the Philippine movie industry?
This 2016 MMFF that marks the 42nd festival of Philippine movies is ostensively absent of the usual ‘big stars’ in the Philippine movies. Every year, the highly-commercialized and well-publicized entries ‘suffocate’ Philippine moviegoers from nose to lungs. The present MMFF selection committee revolutionized the criteria in selecting movies for the film festival. That is, leaving completely from a 50% commercial viability to “developing audiences for and encouraging the production of quality Filipino films (emphasis is mine)” MMFF aims to “celebrating the Filipino’s artistic excellence and to champion the sustainability” of the Philippine film industry*.
With the implementation of the new criteria, the 2016 MMFF showcased the following eight (8) films, indie films:
- Die Beautiful
- Vince & Kath & James
- Sunday Beauty Queen
- Babae sa Septic Tank 2
- Saving Sally
These indies literally trumped Vic Sotto’s Enteng Kabisote 10, Vice Ganda and Coco Martin’s Super Parental Guardian, and Richard Yap’s Mano Po 7—the so-called highly commercial films, presumably highly-paid main casts.
Issues Worth Probing
The 2016 MMFF selection criteria run the gamut from story to technical excellence and Filipino sensibility. That is,
- story, audience appeal, overall impact (40%
- cinematic attributes and technical excellence (40%)
- global appeal (10%)
- Filipino sensibility (10%)
With the above criteria, hopeful entries for 2016 MMFF with high commercial viability are obviously ‘killed’ on the spot. On the contrary, those with substantial essence on real-life values stand out. In other words, the selection criteria are methinks designed for quality films rather than commercial films, which the latter have presumably been the meterstick of most popular film producers to structure their crafts for a profit rather than for economic, education, values, and innovation.
But how could a film industry survive when movies are supposedly be structured this new way, while the Philippine consumerism on movies has long been behaving commercially-dependent or fanatically-influenced?
Not only in politics under Duterte administration that change is coming, but also in the film industry does change come radically.
The 2016 MMFF selection committee neither made a mistake nor did they weave the criteria just right. The objectives of the present MMFF sound too good to be true as they want the Philippine film industry sustainable while inculcating positive values formation.
Judging the movies based on quality is subjective. Judging them based on commercial viability is too much of an objective based on historical data on revenues.
On the matter why Mother Lily Monteverde felt disappointment on the result of the selection was a matter so legit that 2016 MMFF has to learn. Christmas is about happiness for all and sharing above all. There has always a time for Indies. That is outright true, but Christmas must be an exemption. This season cannot be used as a vehicle for discriminate showing only for the so-called quality films. Showing only “quality films”, despite all criteria, may result in an entity of discrimination being imposed to Philippine moviegoers—young and old, the rich, and the poor.
Between quality and commercial, both should be considered active participants in building and sustaining the Philippine film industry.
The generation of Philippine moviegoers nowadays, despite differences in social norms and strata, deserve a simple identity of respect. Metro Manila Film Festival shouldn’t be structured or be fashioned according to what is quality based on the ‘taste’ of the few. Nobody has the exclusive right to impose the standard of Filipino audience on what they are going to watch selecting from only one genre. The more choices, the happier; the wider the selection, the more talents and film producers are given a chance and benefited. Isn’t it so Christmas in spirit after all? ▲
* ______. MMFF.com. "2016 MMFF kicks off with exciting new season", November 3, 2016. (mmff.com.ph/news-and-updates/2016-mmff-kicks-off-exciting-new-season/)