With a new mission and vision, new rules, new selection criteria and new composition of its Executive Committee, the Metro Manila Film Festival is expected to have a new look starting this year.
This was announced by Metro Manila Development Authority and MMFF chairman Atty. Emerson Carlos during a news conference Thursday at the MMFF Auditorium in Makati City.
“The MMFF has heard the clamor and appeal for change within the festival…With a new Festival year and a new set of members of the Executive Committee, the MMFF is committed to revisiting its policies, rules and regulations, and setting a more inclusive goal of uniting the Filipino film industry and making MMFF the festival of the people once again,” Carlos said in his opening speech.
There has always been a clamor for change in the MMFF particularly in its selection of entries that guaranteed slots for blockbuster franchises and films with bankable stars but left little room for entries with high artistic values.
But it wasn’t until the controversy that saw the disqualification of Erik Matti’s critically acclaimed “Honor Thy Father” from the festival’s Best Picture category that led to the MMFF’s recent decision to undergo a major facelift.
During the news conference, Carlos introduced the festival’s 2016 Executive Committee members composed of himself, Police Senior Superintendent Rhoderick Armamento, film academician Edward Cabagnot, producer Jesse Ejercito, Film Development Council of the Philippines executive director Teodoro Granados, writer and producer Moira Lang, Bryan Ian Montaces representing Senator Sonny Angara, and Metro Manila Theaters Association Vice President Marcus Ng.
Also in the Executive Committee are Mowelfund president Boots Anson-Rodrigo, Bureau of Broadcast Services’ Jun Romana, SM Lifestyle Entertainment president Edgar Tejerero, Motion Picture Distributors Association of the Philippines president Wilson Tieng, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, and Movie and Television Review Classification Board Atty. Eugenio Villareal.
No longer part of the new ExeCom are former board members Senator Grace Poe, Christina Caparas, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Dominic Du, Rowena Capulong-Reyes, Marichu Maceda, Jag Garcia and director Mark Meily.
During a congressional hearing on the MMFF controversy involving “Honor Thy Father” last January, MTRCB board member Carmen “Keats” Musngi and Paul Resureccion, members of the 2015 MMFF board of jurors identified Du and Maceda as the ExeCom members who allegedly told the jurors that “Honor Thy Father” was disqualified from the Best Picture award as early as December 21 or days before the decision became public.
In addition to the ExeCom’s revamp, the MMFF also announced new vision and mission statements that place emphasis on “artistic excellence,” “audience development,” “quality Filipino films,” and “sustainability of the Philippine film industry.”
To this end, Carlos and board members Edward Cabagnot, Moira Lang and MTRCB Chairman Atty. Eugenio Villareal also bared the revised criteria for the selection of finalists which consist of Story, Audience Appeal and Overall Impact (40 percent), Cinematic Attributes/Technical Excellence (40 percent), Global Appeal (10 percent) and Filipino Sensibility (10 percent).
Asked how these criteria will affect the commercial viability of the festival which had set box office records in recent years, Carlos, Lang and Cabagnot took turns in emphasizing that while they are “blazing a trail for the film industry” with the changes that are taking effect this year, they are not forgetting the commercial aspects that made the MMFF a much anticipated source of entertainment every Yuletide season.
A major rule change that the ExeCom is introducing is that starting this year, only films that are completed and fully shot are going to be considered as entries. Carlos said that these finished films must not be shown publicly or in any film festival prior to their submission to the MMFF.
The MMFF chairman added that the rule, as deliberated by the committee is final and absolute. The ExeCom will no longer allow further edits or revisions to a finished film submitted once it is selected for the festival.
Carlos said the MMFF has also decided to do away with the New Wave section devoted to independent films to “remove any distinction between indies and mainstream films.” The pre-MMFF New Wave section was pioneered by former MMDA and MMFF chairman Francis Tolentino who is currently seeking a senatorial seat.
As for the number of entries that will be selected for this year’s festival, Carlos said it will remain at eight. Deadline for the submission of finished films is on September 28 while announcement of finalists is scheduled on October 11. (E. Sallan, Interaksyon)