Matti goes to Macau and MMFF | Inquirer Entertainment

Matti goes to Macau and MMFF

/ 02:00 AM December 09, 2016

Erik Matti

Erik Matti

A year ago, all these changes in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) would have been unthinkable, filmmaker Erik Matti admits.

His entry last year, “Honor Thy Father,” was disqualified in the best picture category, because it had been previously shown in the Cinema One Originals fest. The ensuing controversy resulted in a congressional investigation, a revamp of the composition of the MMFF’s executive and screening committees, and changes in the submission rules that eventually yielded this year’s lineup of entries that veers away from the usual franchise fare.


“Changing the requirement from screenplay to finished film was more than enough for me,” Matti tells the Inquirer. “But, the new MMFF gave us bigger changes than we were expecting.”


Although he is thankful for the reforms, he remains cautiously optimistic.

“In the past, MMFF was limited to a few players,” he points out. “Now, the doors have been opened to different kinds of movies, themes and genres.”

Matti is seriously concerned about the “divisive” intrigues that greeted this year’s eight finalists, which include his horror film, “Seklusyon.”

He expressed the hope that the producers and stars who didn’t get in would be gracious enough to accept the screening committee’s decision. “It should motivate them to work harder and produce better films next year. If you didn’t make it this year, that doesn’t mean that your entry was bad … it just didn’t meet the criteria. It all boils down to tastes.”

He, however, finds talk of boycotting this year’s MMFF deplorable. “I feel passionately about this. It’s like dining in a newly opened restaurant. Why reject dishes you haven’t tasted yet? I hope people will give the new MMFF a chance.”

He acknowledges that things cannot change overnight. “Audience development takes time. But I’ve been saying this for the past three years: Indie films will gain dominance and become the new mainstream.”

Rhed Bustamante in “Seklusyon”

Rhed Bustamante in “Seklusyon”

Matti confesses that he made it a point to watch the movies of Vice Ganda in past editions of the MMFF. “I enjoy Vice’s brand of comedy, but I also want to watch Paolo Ballesteros or Eugene Domingo.”

The Vice Ganda caper “The Super Parental Guardians” didn’t make it in the 2016 fest. “Die Beautiful,” which topbills Ballesteros, and “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2,” which features Domingo, are the comedy entries in this year’s MMFF.

Matti’s latest film, “Seklusyon,” will have its premiere at the 1st International Film Festival and Awards-Macau on Dec. 11—two weeks before the official start of the MMFF on Dec. 25.

There is no conflict this time, Matti asserts.

“The only requirement is a Philippine premiere,” screening committee member Mae Paner agrees. (Jun Robles Lana’s “Die Beautiful” competed and won in Tokyo, while Baby Ruth Villarama’s “Sunday Beauty Queen” debuted in Busan.)

“Seklusyon” is included in Macau’s noncompetitive Hidden Dragons section, along with Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Daguerrotype,” Derek Nguyen’s “The Housemaid” and Sebastian and Federico Rotstein’s “Terror 5.”

Among the present batch of directors, Matti was among the first to make the rounds of international film fests. “As early as 2003, ‘Prosti’ was shown in Udine, followed by ‘Gagamboy’ in 2004.”

Matti has always been known to combine indie innovation and genre mass appeal. “The reason I became a director is precisely because I want my movies to be seen by a lot of people,” he owns up.

He is a true child of cinema.

“I started as script continuity in Peque Gallaga’s ‘Darna’ in 1992,” he recalls. “I rose through the ranks.”

Coming full circle, he is now working on the latest version of “Darna,” the Filipino superwoman (who is yet to be cast). He is also turning Anne Curtis into an action star in the coming thriller, “Buy Bust.”

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Apart from unveiling “Seklusyon,” he is also participating in Macau’s pitching forum—fielding “Pintakasi,” an action flick he is developing, with Dingdong Dantes and Piolo Pascual sharing stellar billing.

TAGS: "Honor Thy Father", Entertainment, Erik Matti, Metro Manila Film Festival, MMFF, Seklusyon

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