Contrasting takes on two events

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GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

Two significant national events simultaneously came down hard on the citizenry with shocking entertainment value the past week, eluding some people’s vigilance—the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan Ng Mga Bayani and the announcement of the final eight entries to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

The first one was strongly opposed creating quite a stir and fracas among victims of Martial Law throughout the country that included students from schools run by nuns and priests.

Local television and social media came out on global broadcast with a foretold scenario in which the Marcoses were villains vis-a-vis victims and their relatives including sympathizers in supporting roles as aggrieved protagonists. It turned in quite a “Fellinisque” breakthrough film material with a nihilistic political plot of the most macabre proportion that this country could proudly show to the world with postmodern twists and turns.

In contrast, the announcement of the eight lucky entries by the MMFF screening committee members this year headed by the maverick Nick Tiongson was almost unopposed even by Mother Lily, Vic Sotto, Vice Ganda and company who were in a manner of speaking slapped in the face for submitting actual finished film products (not scripts as required in the past).

Their movies were apparently much wanting in substance although perhaps reeking with entertainment values for the captured audiences of the filmfest compared to the chosen eight—Die Beautiful, Kabisera, Saving Sally, Seklusyon, Oro, Vince & Kath & James, Ang Babae Sa SepticTank 2, and Sunday Beauty Queen.

Industry denizens—including majority of gagged movie press whose mindsets have been positively wired up to the status quo of how the past MMFFs were appropriated as the goose that used to lay the golden eggs for the insatiable movie producers—have openly expressed in sober terms their fearless prediction that this year’s filmfest is going to be a monstrous flop in terms of box-office returns.

Their contention is that children and their family who comprise the bigger chunk of the annual filmfest earnings are deprived of the surefire formulaic blockbusters coming from the actors and producers whose entries failed to measure up to the new criteria set up by the mandate of the new MMFF administration. This time the consideration is elevating quality films over ROI considerations from the usual numbing slapstick, triangulated repetitious love stories of the rom-com variety.

Per record, the MMFF churned notable quality films in the past—Burlesk Queen, Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo, Kisapmata, Himala, among others that have considerably fared well at the box-office. That was before the festival fell wholesale into the hands of the opportunistic producers in cahoots with corrupt administrators at the expense of the gullible movie viewing public. Think of the case in-progress initiated by the COA against the past MMFF administrators.

Unlike the anti-Marcos burial rallyists who swore not to stop at anything until they get rid of the dictators’ carcass from the burial site of the country’s soldiers, national artists and presidents, this may yet be the tentative end of our argument for the contending MMFF sector who erroneously thought they have been had or led to the bitter end of the new deal.

But like the wicked prophets of doom they will sit at the fringe, and have their last laugh as they watch the filmfest perhaps fall disastrously on its knees before them during the holiday season.

Looks like two larger-than-life breathtaking story materials are unfolding before our own naked eyes as the year finally comes to a close.

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