THE director and producers of the controversial film “Oro” were banned from joining the next Metro Manila Film Festival, event organizers announced on Friday.
The MMFF Executive Committee decided to ban the film producers Felix Guerrero and Mark Shandii Bacolod and director Alvin Yapan after it found there was a dog killed during the filming of the movie.
“We have to understand that jurisdiction of the MMFF is just within the festival. If there are going to be further inquiries there are guilds, I don’t even know how far we can explore this matter. I’ve already proposed our own probe on this but film workers, that’s Film Academy of the Philippines. I think the directors guild of the Philippines already issued their own statement,” said Film Development Council of the Philippines chairperson Liza Diño, who is a member of the MMFF Executive Committee.
The move was the latest sanction meted by the committee following a complaint filed by various animal welfare groups who informed the Metro Manila Development Authority, which is the overall organizer of the annual festival, that a dog was slaughtered in the film.
Early this week, the committee withdrew the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award given to Oro due to the controversy.
The producers, in a meeting with MMFF officials, later recalled their earlier representation made and affirmed the fact that a dog was killed during the filming.
“Not just proven, there was an admission. That was our basis. I was the one who called out their attention and I asked them if any animal was harmed during the filming of the movie and they said no, then Shandii admitted later and I think that is important. They are cooperative,” said Diño.
The movie initially won several awards, including Best Actress and Best Ensemble Cast Awards and the FPJ Excellence Award which was given by the family members of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.
The organizers reiterated that it condemns any form of animal cruelty, stressing that one of the representatives of the film crew had led committee members to believe that no animal was harmed during the filming of the movie.
The controversy triggered by Oro was a scene where a dog was slaughtered and then eaten by some of the casts.
The committee found that the crew had been dishonest and did not come out with real circumstances surrounding the controversy. The MMFF expects every participant through the whole process, including the selection, preview, and exhibition, to act with justice and observe honesty and good faith.
The Oro filmmakers, according to Diño, decided to stop showing the movie during the extended period of the MMFF running schedule in selected SM and Robinsons cinemas in Metro Manila and other theaters in provinces.
“Initially, the agreement of the [film] legal counsel at the time is to edit the scene. They call it self-regulation. I think they decided not to pursue with editing out the scene which we completely respect, since we were mediators during the inquiry. There is a sanction because of the misrepresentation of Oro with MMFF regarding the issue of the dog when we called out their attention they denied that there was a dog harmed in the film,” said Diño.
The controversy stemmed from the complaint filed by animal rights organizations led by Philippine Animal Welfare Society, which called the attention of the MMFF organizers to stop the showing of the movie and revoke its awards.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also asked the festival committee to conduct a full investigation on the matter.
“Whether or not the dog slaughter scene was intentionally staged or a dog was coincidentally slaughtered at the location of the movie, the fact remains that the killing was illegal,” the group stated. “Instead of watching a dog die slowly and after being beaten to death in front of their cameras, this crime could and should have been prevented.”
“Killing dogs is not entertainment. It’s Illegal. Slaughtering dogs is a violation of RA 10631, the Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines, as well as the Anti-Rabies Act of the Philippines,” it added.
Violators of the Animal Welfare Act might be imprisoned for one to two years and pay P100,000.
The Oro filmmakers earlier said they just want more people to know about the injustices done to four human beings killed who were portrayed in the movie. They added they were saddened by the issue.
The film, a story of a barangay leader defending a small mining community from bandits, is one of the eight movie entries to this year’s MMFF, organized and supervised by the MMDA.