ANOTHER executive official of the controversial Metro Manila Film Festival committee has resigned.
According to former University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication dean Rolando Tolentino, Executive Director Ed Lejano of the Quezon City Film Development Commission resigned as member of the MMFF executive committee.
“Just to let everyone know and I maybe jumping the gun here, MMFF Execom member Ed Lejano, texted to say that he also resigned. Kudos!” Tolentino said in his post on Twitter.
Lejano is the fourth member to resign from the board.
The three others include Tolentino, screenwriter Ricky Lee, and journalist and documentary producer Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, who said in a joint statement they decided to leave the committee because it put too much emphasis on commerce over art in choosing entries for the MMFF 2017.
Manila Standard tried to get an official statement or reaction from MMFF executive chairman Oscar Orbos regarding Lejano’s resignation but he was not available at press time.
Orbos, however, made a statement Thursday defending the decision of the committee to include commercial films produced by big studios, saying the goal of the annual event was not only to secure artistic excellence but also to provide financial assistance to its beneficiaries.
“The goal of the MMFF is to secure artistic excellence as well as to provide revenues so that we can provide and give them to the beneficiaries,” said Orbos, also the general manager of the Metro Manila Development Authority, the overall organizer and the supervising body of the annual festival.
“Let me make it clear that MMFF is not an ordinary festival compared to Cannes, or any festival outside. We have another mission. Aside from pursuing artistic excellence, you’re supposed to raise revenues for our sector,” he added.
The MMFF beneficiaries include the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation Inc., Motion Picture and Anti-Film Piracy Council, Film Development Council of the Philippines, and the Optical Media Board.
“Let me say this, because of the push of the indies last year, even the commercial films, somehow made improvement. There was an effect. We have a process and we cannot always get what we want in a day,” said Orbos.
Orbos said MMFF 2016 failed to hit the P1-billion revenue target and collected only about P400 million in more than two weeks of screening on cinemas nationwide.
Lee, Tolentino and Alikpala said they accepted the invitation to be part of the committee because they were excited to maximize the gains of the festival last year, when most of the entries were artistically made and independently-produced films.
“Last year’s festival showcased a wide variety of quality cinema that went beyond the formulaic. There was a shift of emphasis from commercial viability to artistic excellence. It also celebrated the spirit of a film culture that produced many cult classics in the early years of the MMFF,” they said.
The three also said their resignation had nothing to do with the first four selected MMFF 2017 entries, which include the movies produced by big film studios and featured box-office hit makers comedians Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda.
“We stand committed to seek reforms in the Filipino film industry. We remain steadfast believing in a Metro Manila Film Festival that can once more be a celebration of the finest of Filipino artistry. The Filipino audience deserves no less.”
Other members of the MMFF executive committee include Senator Grace Poe, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, Taguig City Mayor Laarni Cayetano; Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde; Rachel Arenas, chairperson of the Movie, Television Review and Classification Board.
Wilson Tieng, president of the Movie Producers and Distributors Association of the Philippines; Jun Romana of the Bureau of Broadcast Services; Jesse Ejercito of the Philippine Motion Picture Producers Association; Marichu Maceda, chairperson of the Mowelfund; actress Boots Anson-Rodrigo;
Victor Villegas, a film distributor; Edgar Tejerero, president of the SM Lifestyle Inc.; and lawyer Rolando Duenas, assistant general manager of the Ayala Cinemas.
In 2015, the MMFF earned P1.020-billion total gross, more than P15 million the festival earned in 2014.