The films we deserve to tell our stories



There they go again. Elitists are once again doing it all wrong, not in politics, but in the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

One of the dominant lines which is being deployed in defense of the entries this year is that they are quality films, in contrast to the garbage which past MMFF have inflicted on the Filipino viewing public, who simply were left with no choice but to escape to cable and to video-streaming.

And when Mocha Uson was asked to promote the Festival as its ambassador, not a few raised their eyebrows. After all, it is hard to decouple Mocha from what the elitists derisively label as the unthinking masses which she commands in social media. Mocha allegedly represents the unsophisticated classes that in past MMFF have enriched the pockets of Regal and Star Cinema. This is the class that laughed at the inanities of Vice Ganda, were mesmerized by the magical world of Vic Sotto in “Enteng Kabisote,” screamed in fear at the predictable horror in the nth installment of the pseudo-immortalized “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” and cried and commiserated with the formulaic drama of movies like ‘Mano Po.”

But for the elitists to hold this view simply reeks of arrogance. In doing so, they assault the ordinary Pinoy.

There they were, vanguards of the arts and the cultured, appearing to be descending from Mt. Olympus to educate us ordinary mortals of the nuances of what quality films mean. They act as if they are sent by the gods of art to rescue us from the claws of poor quality films that had dumbed us down for generations. And Mocha Uson should not dare intrude into and corrupt such a noble mission.

From a crowd that has subsisted on political correctness, what this sector of those who push for the MMFF have done is so politically incorrect.

There is no argument. I agree that Mother Lily, Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda have to be held accountable.

It is also correct to point out that it is about time that quality films have to be shown to the ordinary Filipino.

Not because commercial films have dumbed us down, but because they have deceived us to believe that we do not deserve better.

Those who brought us the usual formula embodied in “Enteng Kabisote,” Vice Ganda movies, “Shake Rattle and Roll” and “Mano Po” took advantage of our need to laugh, or cry, or forget, even as they advanced their entertainment careers and their financial interests.

Thus, the act of bringing in quality films during the MMFF is not akin to the cultured and the sophisticated rescuing the ordinary Pinoys from being dumbed down, and teaching them how to appreciate real art. On the contrary, it is a process of offering the ordinary Pinoys the opportunity to empower themselves, by being exposed to narratives which have been denied from them by disciples of capitalism masquerading as art.

The list of entries in this year’s MMFF is a compelling collection of narratives that tell us, our stories, and it just happens that they are of damned good quality.

Ordinary viewers will realize that laughter can be elicited not just by the slapstick comedy movies which previous MMFF have inflicted on us, but by movies like “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough.” Fantasy is not just about “Enteng Kabisote,” but can become a serious narrative of hope represented artistically in high technology such as “Saving Sally.”

It is refreshing to know that romance comedies can go beyond AlDub and KathNiel, and that Star Cinema, a commercial film company, can offer us “Vince, Kath and James” sans the big-name stars.

One has to realize that Vice Ganda’s brand of comedy is not empowering to the gays. In fact, the cause of gays would be better advanced by Paolo Ballesteros’ artistically poignant representation in “Die Beautiful.”

Horror can be as deep and compelling as “Seklusyon,” and not just the screaming that “Shake, Rattle and Roll” elicited.

It is also about time that people get out from the contrived and inauthentic representation of families in crisis in “Mano Po” and begin looking at the darker but more organic families trying to survive in “Kabisera.”

Movies like “Oro” will take the ordinary Pinoys to a world where they will see themselves, as being victims as well as heroes, no matter how flawed they may be.

And Pinoys will see real people playing themselves, like the domestic helpers in Hong Kong colonizing a space and a day where they become queens and not maids in “Sunday Beauty Queen.”

We have in this year’s MMFF a collection of narratives that will remind us of our capacity to laugh, cry, scream and dream, not as objects of slapstick comedy, contrived drama, formulaic horror and mechanized fantasy, but as empowered agents of our own entertainment. We are a people that do not need rescuing from being dumbed down. We can empower ourselves through art.


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  1. After being duped into watching MMFF decades ago, i concluded it would be a waste of time and money to patronize these junks and instead go out of town for a much needed respite.
    I’m unable to leave town this December,2016 and have no where to go to while away my time.
    My curiosity about the current array of MMFF showing in Metro Manila has been stoked by this article of Mr. Contreras.
    Im going to give these films a try and i pray they will be worth it.
    Abangan ang susunod na mangyayari!

  2. Filipino movies all about gays the way Chinese movies are about kung-fu, that’s become the typecast.

  3. At last, MMFF returned to its sanity. During the so-called Marcos Dictatorship, quality Pinoy films competed against each other for box-office and awards. That era produced Burlesk Queen, Insiang, Minsay Isang Gamo2×, Himala, Ina ka ng Anak Mo, Bona, Panday, etc.