The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is the most popular film fest in the country because of two things: it runs during the Christmas season; and it is the only film event anticipated by the biggest production outfits and the biggest names in the industry.
Given MMFF’s schedule, moviegoers see the lineup for each edition mainly out of curiosity. Basically, they don’t have much of a choice since Tagalog films are the only available big screen entertainment from Christmas until the first week of the New Year, unless of course one is willing to fork out additional hundreds from his pocket to watch on Imax because it’s the only place where Tagalog films are not fit to be screened.
Tagalog films are literally shoved into everyone’s mouth, to put it simply. And since it’s Christmas season, people are generally forgiving. Hence, even the worst films in the festival are given favorable reception.
Then, we have the big names, the big stars. Every year is like a royal affair. The queens, the kings, the princes, and princesses of this and that, the ultimate and the prime stars, the multimedia celebrities, and we can have a long list of those stars that grace the annual film event because it is where these people get most of their validation. And the masses, for all we know, are crazy over popular actors, and by crazy I mean, it’s more of blind patriotism.
The MMFF sees this as a glaring opportunity to push Tagalog films forward regardless of their quality (talk about commercial interest). At the end of the day, it’s the films’ box office performance that matters. And this makes MMFF the worst film festival we know.
On Saturday, film director Erik Matti posted an intriguing item of Facebook. He said, in what he called “a breaking news,’’ that three members of the MMFF Executive Committee — namely UP Professor Rolando Tolentino, scriptwriter Ricky Lee, and broadcast journalist Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala — turned in their resignations on Friday, the same day the first four entries of this year’s MMFF were announced.
Among the “ex” MMFF ExeCom members, it’s Tolentino who first aired his side about the resignation. He even announced it on Facebook saying, “As of this morning, I sent my resignation as Chair of the Rules Committee and as member of the 2017 MMFF Execom. I’ll leave it at that.”
His post was followed by a series of tweets that talked about the selection process for this year’s MMFF.
“Patunay ang MMFF script selections na tunay ang hidwaan ng komersyal at kalidad, tunay din may kapangyarihan ang komersyal interes,” he said in his SocMed post.
The following day, Ricky Lee also explained his decision.
“Sa mga nagtataka at nagtatanong kung bakit ako nag-resign bilang miyembro ng Execom ng MMFF, simple lang naman ang sagot. Noong una pa man nang pumayag akong sumali, nag-decide na ako na mag-i-stay lang ako kung ipagpapatuloy nito ang nasimulan nang reforms ng 2016. Sa nagiging takbo ng mga pangyayari ngayon ay mukhang malabo na iyong mangyari. Kaya wala na ring dahilan para mag-stay pa ako,” the acclaimed screenwriter said in his Facebook post.
In 2016, it was announced that there would be major changes from the previous editions such as the criteria of choosing the final eight films to be shown, and the awarding. And it did happen, but apparently, since last year’s MMFF was not successful as the previous editions, and the “big stars” were protesting that their films had to be commercially exhibited alongside indie movies, MMFF decided to go back to its old ways.
The four films initially selected by the MMFF selection committee are Ang Panday (starring Coco Martin), Almost Is Not Enough (Jennylyn Mercado, and Jericho Rosales), The Revengers (Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla, and Pia Wurtzbach), and Love Traps #Family Goals (Vic Sotto, and Dawn Zulueta).
And looking at this initial lineup, it’s easy to understand why Tolentino, Lee, and Magsanoc-Alikpala resigned. These are the same people, most of them, who give us the kinds of films that make us cringe and throw up.