Change has indeed come to the Metro Manila Film Festival this year, and along with it a host of controversies.
Back in June, the festival’s executive committee announced that a new set of rules had been drawn up to ensure a better selection of finalists for this December’s 42nd outing of the all-Filipino film festival, the most significant of which is the submission requirement of completed films. Until this adjustment, entries have only been submitted via movie scripts.
Early this month, however, the first of wave of controversies began with complaints from participating producers who had met the October 31 deadline for completed films, upon learning that those who had submitted “picture lock” versions their movies were allowed an extension until November 2. A “picture lock” is defined by The Filmmaker’s Handbook as a stage in film editing prior to online editing when all changes to the film cut have been made and approved. This is then sent to subsequent stages in the technical process of filmmaking, among them online editing and audio mixing.
Come Friday, November 18, an even bigger storm unfurled when the eight official entries were announced by the MMFF selection committee, headed by former MTRCB chairman and Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino member Nicanor Tiongson. As The Manila Times reported the following day, stakeholders—from producers and actors, to cinema operators, and even the movie-going public—were stunned to find an all independent film roster in the “Magic 8,” leaving out MMFF-grown movie franchises and much talked about mainstream movies from the festival.
On Showtime, Vice Ganda, whose Star Cinema movie with Coco Martin, The Super Parental Guardians was rejected, blurted out his disappointment. “Wala kaming film festival (We’re not part of the film festival). See you next year sa sinehan. Good luck sa mga movies na pumasok (See you in cinemas next year. Good luck to the movies that made the cut),” he said.
Meanwhile, ace comedian Vic Sotto’s brother and Eat Bulaga co-host, Senator Tito Sotto, took it upon himself to express disappointment over the results via Twitter when he posted (@sotto_tito): “First time in MMFF history, no movie for d children! They forgot that Christmas is for children! MMFF Select Comm, are you kidding?” Vic Sotto of course had made a bankable franchise of his fantasy-comedy Enteng Kabisote through the MMFF, which submitted its 10th instalment for this year’s festival as Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers.
Regal Entertainment’s Roselle Monteverde, who submitted Mano Po 7: Tsinoy starring Richard Yap, pointed out in an interview with GMA’s 24 Oras on Monday that what happened isn’t about their movie, but about people missing out on a family tradition every Christmas. The 30-year-old movie company is left to participate in the festival only as distributors selected entry Die Beautiful, which won Paolo Ballesteros the Best Actor award at the Tokyo International Film Festival last month.
On Monday afternoon, though, news broke out these three heavyweight movies rejected by the MMFF 2016 executive committee will be shown ahead of the film festival, which starts on December 25.
The Super Parental Guardians of Vice Ganda and Coco Martin will be shown on November 30, while Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers will be shown on December 10. Mano Po 7: Tsinoy will be shown on December 14.
How this turn of events will affect the box office of MMFF 2016 is the big question at this point, with a showbiz insider quipping to The Manila Times that the showings will prove to be “the real MMFF.”
As these mainstream movies begin their promos in the days to come, more controversies are sure to come up as D-Day draws near.
Meanwhile, to recap The Manila Times’ MMFF 2016 report, the official entries to open on December 25 are as follows:
Kabisera produced by Silver Story Entertainment and Fire Starters Manila Production Company starring Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Jason Abalos, Victor Neri, Perla Bautista, Ces Quesada, RJ Agustin, Karl Medina, Ronwaldo Martin and Kiko Matos. Written by Real Florido. Directed by Arturo Boy San Agustin and Real Florido.
Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank Part 1: Forever Is Not Enough produced by Martinez Rivera Films and Quantum Films in association with Tuko Film, Buchi Boy Entertainment, Artikulo Uno Productions (TBA). It stars Eugene Domingo, Jericho Rosales, Joel Torre, Agot Isidro, Cai Cortez, Kean Cipriano and Khalil Ramos. Written by Chris Martinez. Directed by Marlon Rivera.
Die Beautiful produced by The IdeaFirst Company starring Paolo Ballesteros, Luis Alandy, Joel Torre, Gladys Reyes, Inah de Belen, Albie Casiño, Lou Veloso and IC Mendoza. Written by Rodolfo Vera, based on a story by Jun Robles Lana. Directed by Jun Robles Lana.
Seklusyon produced by Reality Entertainment starring Dominic Roque, Ronnie Alonte, John Vic De Guzman, and JR Versales, with Neil Ryan Sese, Lou Veloso, Elora Españo, Phoebe Walker and Rhed Bustamante. Written by Anton Santamaria. Directed by Erik Matti.
Vince, Kath, And James produced by Star Cinema starring Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte and Mariz Racal. Written by Jenny Ruth Almocera. Directed by Theodore Borobol.
Oro (Gold) produced by Feliz Film Productions starring Joem Bascon, Mercedes Cabral, Sandino Martin, and Irma Adlawan, with Sue Prado, Timothy Castillo, Arrian Labios, Biboy Ramirez, Ronald Regala, Acey Aguilar and Sunshine Teodoro. Written and directed by Alvin Yapan.
Saving Sally produced by Rocketsheep Studio starring Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos, TJ Trinidad. Directed by Avid Liongoren.
Sunday Beauty Queens (Documentary) produced by Voyage Studios and Tuko Film, Buchi Boy Entertainment, Artikulo Uno Productions (TBA) in association with Tokyo Docs starring Overseas Filipino Workers in Hongkong. Written and directed by Babyruth Villarama-Gutierrez.
Besides Tiongson, the rest of the selection committee had Lawrence Fajardo (writer/ director/ film editor), Mae Paner (actor/film director/political activist), Atty. Trixie Cruz-Angeles (conservationist/ legal counsel for the National Commission on Culture and the Arts), Alan Allanigue (station manager of DZRB Radyo ng Bayan), Crispina Belen (veteran journalist/former entertainment editor of Manila Bulletin for 45 years), Joy Belmonte (Vice Mayor of Quezon City), Ping Medina (award-winning actor), and Krip Yuson (writer/poet, inducted to the Hall of Fame of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature).
The MMFF will run until January 7, 2017 with an awards night on January 8.
WITH REPORT FROM IZA IGLESIAS