No big stars for 2016 MMFF

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Indies rule this year’s ‘Magic 8’

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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 which have long been “regulars” to the all-Filipino movie event.

Following what its executive committee 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.

Per the new rules, the conditions for the choice of finalists are built on story, audience appeal, 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 in 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, another MMFF stalwart will not be shown in cinemas for 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 Competition 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.

Asked whether the committee considered the commercial value of the entries, execom 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 known 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 makes 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, he said they want 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.

Meanwhile, actress and director, Mae Paner offered, “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 to families who have made it a tradition to see major stars and productions in the movies in the Christmas season, the committee insisted their selection will prove to be a hit among 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. So let’s all help promote the movies and support them really help each other promote the movie,” Paner replied.

The comedienne proudly claimed none of them 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 named actors to draw crowds even just to the traditional Parade of Stars on December 23, and on the whole, the commercial viability of the entries, MMFF 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 are disappointed over the turnout of the finalists, especially since they know that Filipinos look forward to seeing their favorite stars on the big screen at Christmas time, most of whom only make movies for the MMFF.

“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 the 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.”

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9 Comments

  1. Deinitely, it’s time to make our viewers more intelligent and critical when watching moving and just be content with empty farcical films… our populace have already been dumbed down by our daily teledramas and variety shows… it’s time that people get to watch quality movies… the big movie outfits have become too conplacent already that they no longer look for real talent, basta maganda o gwapo or panget na nagpaptawa… they just rehashed the same storyline and created stereotypes… that’s why our local films can’t even compete with international commercial films… unlike how Korean, Chinese, Indian and even Indonesian films get the attention of world viewers…

  2. Onesimo P.Barra on

    Dapat 2 categories para sa MMFF 2016. Category 1 sa mga Independent film at Category 2 sa bigatin pelikula na 5 entries na hindi nakapasok sa entry po.

  3. Monroe Aguilar on

    This will be the first time I’ll go to the mall and watch movies– good job MMFF!.. It’s great to watch movies that allow people to reflect and encourage change in our system..

  4. I am a college student who have been studying film as part of my program. We were always presented and were trained to feel and think when we watch. Films are both critical and emotional to me. Thd turn out of this year’s entry made me and my circle of friends rejoice that at last—the films we need to see would be shown and distributed in a better way.

    We often run and make reservations just to catch a feature, even miss some because the malls they screen to are very few.

    Now, at least, in this festival traditionally flooded with mainstream escapist films, indie rose. I am so happy and proud. For the first time, hindi lang indie film festivals ang dadayuhin namin para manood ng mga finalists. Ngayon, halos lahat ng entry sa MMFF, aabangan namin. Inaabangan namin.

    I agree with every comment before this and also to the execom of the festival. Their chill nature is for me, a challenging stance to the Filipino people.

  5. The judges decided to present movies with intellectual contents!

    They forgot that the true objective of the MMFF is to entertain the people during Christmas. Majority of the movie going public during the Xmas season simply wants to be entertained, not to think about the quality and depth of the content of the movie.

    If they really wanted quality films to be presented, they should use a different vehicle like experimental film festivals or they could have had a mixed type of films! I just hope the MMFF will succeed.

  6. At last, makakabalik na naman ako sa sinehan to watch local “films” and not commercial “movies”. i already have 3 entries

  7. I totally agree with the above’s opinion. The afore mentioned films to be shown during MMFF are quality films and independently produced. Hayaan naman nating kumita ang mga maliliit na mga producers na gumagawa ng magandang mga pelekula. Puro nalang Star, GMA Films at Regal ang kumikita.

  8. for several years in a row, i have been complaining against festivals that prop up winner-movies that only make people laugh but fail to make people think. I have been disappointed for several years by winner movies that advocate questionable values subliminally and forget to extol or encourage filipinos to be heroes or produce statesmen in politics. Let us hope things will be a little different. With due deference to other movies that have been summarily excluded just because of the new set of additional criteria.