26 Nov Change Has Finally Come

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JUAN SAYS: 2016 is the year that MMFF finally made a turning point and made history. This year’s selection of the Magic 8 shows change has indeed dawned upon Filipino films and filmmakers alike. We have all been criticizing the Metro Manila Film Festival for the quality of films it releases at Christmas time. Bankability was the name of the game.

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This year’s line up includes:

1. “Oro,” a political thriller directed by Alvin Yapan and starring Joem Bascon, Irma Adlawan and Mercedes Cabral;

2. “Vince & Kath & James,” a romantic comedy directed by Theodore Boborol and starring Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte and Maris Racal;

3. “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank Part 2: Forever is Not Enough,” a satirical romantic comedy directed by Marlon Rivera and starring Eugene Domingo and Jericho Rosales;

4. “Die Beautiful,” a black comedy directed by Jun Robles Lana and starring Paolo Ballesteros;

5. “Kabisera,” a drama directed by Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido and starring Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC de Vera, Luis Alandy, and Jason Abalos.

6. “Saving Sally,” a romantic comedy that mixes live action and animation, directed by Avid Liongoren and starring Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos, and TJ Trinidad;

7. “Seklusyon,” a horror thriller directed by Erik Matti and starring Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese and Ronnie Alonte;

8. “Sunday Beauty Queen,” a documentary by Baby Ruth Villarama about a beauty pageant featuring Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.

While many of us missed the more intelligent films of Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal and the likes during its hey days in the 70s, more and more Filipinos are standing in line for what we all perceive as “basura films” that made MMFF the cash cow of many producers. Have you noticed that big stars such as Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino seldom make films outside the MMFF? Precisely. Big stars and big production outfits know that MMFF will rake in the bucks for them. 

But this year paints a different story. The recent history of the MMFF shows that its success lies with the vast number of fans flocking to cinemas to watch for their idol’s movies. Many of the masa crowd come in throngs to watch films that would “entertain” them on Christmas films. These entries were not exactly the ones that you’d field in more legitimate film festivals abroad, but they serve their purpose. The entertain the masses. To make them laugh, cry or scare them. They don’t necessarily reap awards but they reap the box office rewards. And that is every producer’s end goal — the ROI and more.

But our question is, will the Filipino audience be ready to part with their hard earned money to watch films that would make them think? Will they be able to recognise the efforts of independent film producers to alleviate the taste of Filipinos? Is the Filipino audience ready for poverty, for social problems as the lingering thought during Christmas season?

We may have these concerns for the MMFF yet we are not one with Mother Lily Monteverde who cried foul upon hearing the decision of the screening committee. “There is a time for the indie movies. But not during the Christmas season. Christmas is for the family,” she was quoted as saying.

Indie film actress disputed Mother Lily’s statement saying: “Nakaka-awa ang mga bata??? Sabihin mo lang e ang habol mo lang e kita ng pelikula mo. Saka bayaran mo ng maayos mga tao mo. Ni hindi ka nga makapag bayad ng matino sa mga taong nagtatatrabaho sayo e. At kayo lang ba ang may karapatan magpalabas ng pelikula tuwing pasko? Fucking idiot,” she wrote.

Truth be told, Pinoy Indie films have been constantly raking awards for the Philippine film industry with big wins in 2016 from Jaclyn Jose, Brilliante Mendoza, Jason Laxamana, among many others. 

We are one with independent film makers taking centerstage this time. We believe that while this may be a ballsy move for the MMFF, there is no other time but now. Change has indeed come, in the film industry at least. And we are hoping that whatever the outcome, the independent film producers and filmmakers, and the whole of MMFF would continue making this festival a legitimate one. 

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