Filmmaker Will Fredo hopes the New Wave section of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will herald a bright beginning for the annual cinema event.
Fredo, one of the honorees in the 3rd Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute, relates: “Historically, the MMFF produced a bunch of classic movies, with innovative storytelling, from great directors like Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Eddie Romero, Mike de Leon, among others.”
Now, formula flicks and franchises rule the scene.
“I hope that this new initiative will usher in another golden age,” Fredo quips.
Fredo’s “In Nomine Matris” is among the five films selected in the New Wave section, along with Armando Lao’s “Ad Ignorantiam,” Ronaldo Bertubin’s “Gayak,” Michael Angelo
Dagñalan’s “Paglaya sa Tanikala” and Tyrone Acierto’s “The Grave Bandits.”
All five films tell stories that deviate from the tried-and-tested rules of the mainstream.
“In Nomine Matris” is set in the world of flamenco dancers. “Gayak” has the Taong Putik rituals of Bibiclat, Nueva Ecija, as backdrop. “Paglaya sa Tanikala” juxtaposes the story of a 16th-century Italian saint with the plight of modern-day street children.
“Ad Ignorantiam” follows a petty case of snatching that gets lost in the circuitous court system. “The Grave Bandits” gives a fresh spin to the “zombie” thriller as an indictment of greed.
Dagñalan points out: “Helping the indies will strengthen the film industry. This section encourages more producers to support new directors.”
Lao is thankful to Francis Tolentino, chair of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for introducing and championing the indie section.
(The MMDA spearheads the MMFF.)
“The chair is in touch with the changing times. He knows that the indie film movement can no longer be ignored. With this section, he is recognizing the gains made by the indies abroad,” says Lao.
Acierto exclaims: “What took it so long? It’s embarrassing that Filipino artists have to turn to international film festivals where they are honored with awards.”
With the New Wave section, Acierto hopes, “emerging talents would finally gain the exposure they deserve. The competition would also help raise the quality of the productions.”
Lao points out that the MMFF is the only local festival that gives cash prizes to winners. “That’s a big help to the producers. The winning director, actor and actress are also given incentives.”
In the mainstream, Bertubin remarks, filmmakers have very little freedom to think out of the box. “With indies, there are no limits. We can prove that budget need not be an obstacle in making simple but beautiful films.”
Bertubin relates that in Goa, India, “the government subsidizes the tickets of film buffs.”
His wish is that the New Wave section will introduce indie filmmakers to a broader market.
Intervention is key
Fredo notes: “Government intervention is key. The MMFF is a great example of how government, theater owners, bookers and producers can work together to popularize indie cinema.”
Dagñalan says that his hope is for the New Wave entries to be shown in more cinemas “to allow filmmakers to recoup the production cost and inspire their producers to finance future projects.”
Fredo points out: “The New Wave can be exciting if everyone, from industry stakeholders to the audience, would embrace it. Enough of the cynicism and crab mentality. Let’s make things happen by supporting each other.”
The MMFF New Wave runs from Dec. 18 to 22 at the Glorietta 4 in Makati.
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