Indies rule this year’s ‘Magic 8’
DO not expect to see the likes of Vic Sotto, Vice Ganda, Coco Martin or Richard Yap on the big screen come Christmas Day.
In a surprising turn of events, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Friday left out what were thought to be the frontrunners for selection to the 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)—the productions of major movie companies with big-name stars that have long been “regulars” in the all-Filipino movie event.
Following what its executive committee (execom) has described as a “thorough reform of the MMFF’s selection process,” this year’s “Magic 8” or full-length films in competition are: Ted Boborol’s “Vince & Kath & James,” Jun Robles Lana’s “Die Beautiful,” Erik Matti’s “Seklusyon,” Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido’s “Kabisera,” Baby Ruth Villarama’s “Sunday Beauty Queen,” Marlon Rivera’s “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2 #ForeverIsNotEnough,” Alvin Yapan’s “Oro,” and Avid Liongoren’s “Saving Sally.”
Based on the new rules, the choice of finalists were based on story, audience appeal and overall impact (40 percent); cinematic attributes and technical excellence (40 percent); global appeal (10 percent); and Filipino sensibility (10 percent).
Without stating whether or not the conditions had been met by the mainstream movies submitted to the committee, what is certain is that Sotto’s “Enteng Kabisote 10,” a franchise that had always been shown in the festival; Vice Ganda and Martin’s “Super Parental Guardian,” and Yap’s “Mano Po 7” will not be shown in cinemas during the holidays.
“When we computed all our individual scores, there was a consensus on these eight films. There were no objections among the execom members, and neither were there other issues that came about from these choices. We were all focused on the same direction, and concerned primarily on the quality of the films,” MMFF 2016 Selection Committee member Nicanor Tiongson explained.
“One cannot say that there is anybody who questioned any other judge because we don’t talk about that. What we do is we judge the film we watched, then we go about our respective evaluation and sign them. The results were all kept; none of us saw them until the day of the deliberations when all the submissions were averaged and checked based on our individual ratings,” Tiongson added.
Commercial value not ‘main concern’
Asked whether the committee considered the commercial value of the entries, committee member Krip Yuson took the stage and explained, “Commercial value is not really our main concern. Our first concern is quality. Even if some may say the other films will make more money, that was not a concern on our part. So long as a film does not pass the evaluation, whatever the genre, it is not considered for the final cut.”
The writer added: “Our secondary concern is the representation of genres. As to the commercial viability of the choices we made, we firmly believe that with proper marketing, they will commercially succeed because these films make all kinds of sense, and start with a good story.”
According to Yuson, the committee looked for films that “have something to say” and “were carefully made.” More importantly, the committee wanted to encourage Filipino viewers to patronize independent movies “if they want real change in the industry.”
“They are not only entertaining, but they are eye-opening,” he added.
Actress and director Mae Paner said: “For the films that didn’t make it, for sure there are 365 days in a year—what the MMFF only asks is for these wonderful eight films to be seen by moviegoers in just the two weeks allocated for the festival. I guess that’s not a lot to ask … because the commercial films can survive any regular play date.”
Pressed to comment on whether they believe such films will click with families who have made it a tradition to see major stars and productions in the movies during the Christmas season, the committee insisted the selection would appeal to a wide range of audiences and age brackets.
“Looking at the quality we have this year, I feel like after 1970’s, the golden years of Philippine cinema. We finally said ‘Wow!’ to these eight entries again. So, I think people will really look forward to watching these movies, and they will also be box-office hits,” Paner said.
Change, not formula
The comedienne proudly claimed none of the committee members struggled to find the finalists among the submissions.
“We’re happily surprised that although we come from different backgrounds, we had the same views in choosing the entries,” Paner added.
As for the lack of big-name actors to draw crowds, particularly during the traditional Parade of Stars on December 23, MMFF selection official Allan Allanigue remarked: “We are fully aware of the risk. If they wanted to do the safe, and tried and tested formula, then that doesn’t constitute change. We all know that there were issues that were getting bigger over the years [especially during awards nights], and to do that all over again does not keep with the basis for scoring that was formulated for the festival.”
Tiongson was more determined in saying: “We never considered if there were big stars in the movie; again it was all about the quality of the films as a whole. If there were no superstars, it was fine. Isn’t it good that we’re discovering new talents?”
A number of sources of The Manila Times from the inner circles of the industry’s mainstream players confirmed that many were disappointed with the list of finalists.
“Contrary to what they think is just a two-week run for indies, indies are in fact more present throughout the year these days,” said one source.
“The MMFF is practically a Filipino tradition of bringing delight to audiences because that’s what they want to feel during Christmas time. Everyone worked just as hard in the mainstream films submitted with the season and the pulse of the people in mind,” the source added.