04 Jan Manny Castañeda Needs to Shut Up

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JUAN SAYS: We are out of words. Just read this post by Irish Christianne Dizon

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Dear sir Manny Castaneda,

MAHABA TO ILABAN MO HANGGANG DULO HA.

I just inhaled one cup of rice, a serving of sizzling kansi, a few spoonfuls of laing, and washed it all down with cold calamansi juice. At the time my friends Krizette Laureta Chu and Arthur Pena (Interestingly these two brilliant minds do not know each other but were both offended by your tirade) messaged me about your scathing post, I was extremely hangry (hungry and angry) and incapable of processing anything beyond my grumbling stomach. Now that I’m calm and fed, puwede na akong makipag diskurso nang hindi nandidilim ang paningin ko.

Let me answer you, sir Manny, punto por punto.

YOU: “The ‘not so impressive’ box office performance of the so-called indie films in this year’s MMFF relative to previous Metro Manila Film Festivals should put the arrogance of some indie fanatics in check.”

ME: Hindi ko alam kung ano ang eksaktong figures. Hindi ko alam kung magkano ang combined earnings ng walong Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Official 2016 entries. Pero sigurado ako na kahit pagsamahin ang walo, mahirap talunin yung P68,000,000 on opening day ni Vice at Coco. Kung usapang pera lang, panalo na po kayo. Walang kuwestiyon. Pero. PERO. What came after your statement about box office performance is problematic. What “arrogance of some indie fanatics” are you talking about, sir? Is it arrogant for us to be tired of franchise films that give us a quick scare and cheap laughs and ultimately do nothing for us? Is it arrogant when a group of thoughtful, progressive cineastes (Here’s looking at you Ping Medina, Krip Yuson, Moira Lang, and the rest) decide to have faith in the Filipino audience and give us a crop of films that are built upon fresh ideas and engaging stories that need to be told and heard? Is it fanaticism when you shamelessly throw your full support behind beautiful, unusual movies produced by small independent companies? I think not. I think the correct description is passionate and woke viewers. BY THE WAY LUMAKI AKO SA SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL MOVIES GANERN TAPOS AKALA KO DATI PAG INDIE INDIE MO MAINTINDIHAN TAPOS NAPANOOD KO YUNG “ANG PAGDADALAGA NI MAXIMO OLIVEROS” NI Kanakan Balintagos AT NAGISING AKO. WALANG DAPAT KATAKUTAN SA INDIE. ANG INDIE AY PELIKULA, TAPOS. TSAKA NAGING CRUSH KO PA SI KUYA BOGS NANG MALALA. 3 YEARS. OH HA?

YOU: “Lily Monterverde of Regal Films who spoke with authority and experience when she insisted that the Metro Manila Film Festival is not the appropriate venue for indie films was right after all. Clearly, the season itself calls for sheer entertainment much like going to a theme park. Though some of the entries were beautifully crafted, still there is a time and place for avant-garde, socially relevant and art films. The MMFF is definitely not one of them.”

ME: Mother Lily is a fascinating person. She has been making movies long before I was alive and her progeny will probably make films long after I am dead. She has experience, yes. But sir, know that no authority is absolute. I would not want to live in a society where only one person has authority over films, especially since films reflect and feed our culture. You say, “the Metro Manila Film Festival is not the appropriate venue for indie films after all.” WRONG. The Metro Manila Film Festivals IS the appropriate venue for films. (Nota bene: I took out the word indie.) Because the biggest film festival in the country SHOULD showcase the BEST FILIPINO MOVIES—regardless if a big studio company or a tiny one produced them. That argument that is “the season” is “for sheer entertainment” is pure commercial BS and you know that. Christmas, while marketed as a season of good cheer and good will, is also the season when deep-seated family issues blow up at the dinner table. Christmas is the season when people feel their singlehood and loneliness most acutely. Christmas is when we try to forgive and forget the assholes who did us wrong and realize we can’t. Christmas is a minefield, and you know it. Filmmakers do not help us when they serve us the same old shit year after year after year. Tatawa ka ng two hours, pagkatapos ano? May nagbago ba sa loob mo? You know what helps us? Movies that reflect our issues onscreen, forcing us to confront them; characters that mirror us and our mistakes; characters that may or may not find redemption. The great thing about showing these films at Christmastime is we actually have TIME to process what we watched. Ang pasko ay sumapit, tayo ay magsi isip. Gusto niyo bumalik sa dati? Bakit? Kasi kayo yung nakikinabang at yumayaman habang yung mga tao nakakakahon na lang sa iisang klase ng entertainment? Wag ganon.

YOU: “The proponents of indie films should learn to identify the audience at each particular time. They should carefully choose their own battle. It is unwise to just barge into a territory that does not belong to them. A gate crasher always has a very negative repercussion.”

ME: The audience does not change: Umulan, bumagyo, mula Batanes hanggang Jolo, the audience is the Filipino people. Buong taon. And the Filipino people deserve good films, whether produced by a giant like Star Cinema or a fledgling company like Rocketsheep. Why do you keep saying “indie” like it’s some virus? Ang pelikulang maganda ay pelikulang maganda kahit sino pang Pontio Pilato ang nag produce nito. At territory? Gate crasher? Wow, check your privilege, sir. Who died and made you and people like you overlords of Philippine cinema? Art—cinema—is for everyone.

YOU: “Some even went to the extent of throwing insults to those who disagreed with them only to realize now that they have placed their feet in their mouth. Mercedes Cabral, an indie starlet who early on has brazenly called Mother Lily an idiot, should make an effort to look at herself in the mirror and see what a real idiot looks like.”

ME: Mercedes Cabral has since apologized for calling Mother Lily an idiot. Mercedes Cabral delivered a searing performance in Alvin Yapan’s Oro. Mercedes Cabral is not an “indie starlet.” Mercedes Cabral is an actress and a damn good one. And it’s not idiocy to gamble on the Filipino people, sir. It’s not idiocy to speak one’s mind when a powerful person tries to block the kind of change we can stand behind.

The only idiots I see, sir, are powerful people who, instead of using their power to elevate our cinema, look down on fledgling Filipino artists from their high horses, rather than help them up.

The only idiot is the greedy filmmaker who wants to get a Filipino’s P250 in exchange for a movie that leaves the latter no better than when he entered the cinema.

Those are the real idiots.

P.S. This is just the first year. You cannot expect people to adapt at the snap of a finger. But take it from me who watched all eight entries beginning December 25th: May mga nanonood po. At to quote one of my most favorite commercials ever: GREAT THINGS START FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS.

BUT WHAT DO I KNOW? I’M JUST A NOBODY VIEWER. 😉

Ekis bilog, ekis bilog,
The girl who watched all 8 MMFF 2016 entries

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Alvin Yapan, Avid Liongoren, Babyruth Villarama-Gutierrez, Erik Matti, Marlon Rivera, Jun Robles Lana, Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido, and Theodore Boborol for giving us good films. I–and many others–appreciate you. Tuloy niyo lang.

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