Is MMFF 2016 a big success?

In November, after Mano Po 7 failed to make it to the list of official entries (Magic 8) to the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival, Regal Entertainment matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde said that Christmas is no time for indie films.

With similar sentiments, Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda also made sweeping statements because their films were excluded too in the elite list. Sotto predicted that there would be a low audience turnout while Vice Ganda affirmed that every single film he made was of good quality. A lot of film workers raised their eyebrows, of course.

Christmas day came and the 42nd edition of MMFF commenced. According to our reliable source, the Magic 8 only managed to gross around P48.25 million. It’s just a fraction of what the MMFF entries earned last year. In the 41st MMFF, the eight entries already raked in a total of P150 million on its first day and breached the P1 billion mark by the end of its two-week run.

Film Development Council of the Philippines’ (FDCP) Liza Diño was concerned about the low audience turnout in the first two days of the MMFF. Yet, the actress was still optimistic the audience would have a change of heart after the Gabi ng Parangal.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Diño said in vernacular, “Our audience are not yet ready for these kinds of films. At this point, we are still in the process of encouraging the public to watch them.”

Jun Robles Lana's "Die Beautiful" starring Paolo Ballesteros is one of the top grossers in the 2016 MMFF, it also walked home with three major awards during the Gabi ng Parangal
It is as if the FDCP head agreed on what the sour losers previously said. Using the phrase “not yet ready” just validated that the film council is unaware of what kind of audience Filipinos are.  They’ve just been dumbed down.

Before the Gabi ng Parangal last Thursday, a number of netizens took to social media to raise a concern about the move of some cinema owners. Some people were disappointed that some entries were already not being shown.

To answer that, Diño wrote on Facebook, “Contrary to what’s being talked about in social media, our exhibitors have been very open and cooperative. So please let’s not be too hard on them.”

But while FDCP chairman believed that most cinema owners were cooperative, what’s really happening in the cinemas was actually the other way around. There were cinema owners that replaced some entries with mainstream movies Enteng Kabisote 10, Mano Po 7, and Super Parental Guardians. Moreover, the Hollywood film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was luring the public away from the MMFF entries.

You see, there’s a serious disconnect that sabotaged the chances of some MMFF entries to recoup their production cost.  But the real questions are: Why did it happen? Didn’t the Magic 8 live up to everyone’s expectations that they had to watch other films while the official entries were still available at local the cinemas?

The readiness of local cinemagoers to these kinds of films is not the issue. The quality of the films being exhibited is. While Die Beautiful, Seklusyon, Sunday Beauty Queen, and Oro shone in the eyes of film critics and moviegoers, the same thing cannot be said of the rest of the entries.  

Now, given the situation, how can we gauge the success of this edition of the MMFF?

MMFF Best Supporting Actress Phoebe Walker in a scene from Erik Matti's "Seklusyon" (left photo), and festival Best Film "Sunday Beauty Queen"  (right), which follows a group of expatriate domestic workers in Hong Kong
First, we have to acknowledge the fact that the audience always views film as a means of entertainment and not a business. They don’t count a film’s success or failure based on the size of the initial receipts but on how they measure up against competition and expectations. In a world where there’s a new blockbuster hit every few weeks, it’s easy for productions to lose their popularity shortly after they’ve been released.

The public is well educated that success of a movie does not solely depend upon how much profit it made but also in its ability to amplify, through good storytelling, some of its key messages, whether it’s a drama, horror or comedy, to be one of the most memorable and entertaining movies they’ve seen.

Perhaps we should adapt what’s being done by Telefilm in Canada. Telefilm, a federal cultural agency devoted to the development and promotion of audiovisual documents produced by the Canadian private sector, came up with a success index in 2001 (revised in 2011) to measure the success of their films. The measurement takes 60 percent of a film’s score based on sales figures domestically and internationally (commercial), 30 percent on awards and film-festival appearances (cultural), and 10 percent on how much of a film’s funding was private as opposed to public (industrial).

This is very applicable in the Philippines since some movies make money while the others just win awards. It gives productions equal footing without sacrificing the real intention of movie producers and cinema owners. In this way, we could easily say shut up to those people who think that they are the last word in the world of big screen entertainment.

Topics: Mano Po 7 , 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival , Mother Lily Monteverde , Vic Sotto , Vice Ganda , Liza Diño
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