MMFF belongs to movie people | Inquirer Entertainment

MMFF belongs to movie people

/ 08:49 PM January 03, 2012

The best news we heard as 2011 was just about to expire and self-destruct (with Tropical Storm “Sendong” indubitably affirming its being an annus horribilis, not to be fondly remembered) was the move by some enlightened people to transfer control of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)—from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) back to the purview of the local movie industry.

Reflected glory

It is really about time because, in the hands of the politicians “gone show biz,” the yearend cinematic festival has given us precious few moments truly worth celebrating.


Some Metro mayors and other savvy and canny politicos tended to use the film fest as an occasion to make themselves more popular and better known, by way of the “reflected glory” they enjoyed in the company of film stars, who aided their political campaigns come election time.


Another bummer in terms of loss of quality in the film fest’s entries was some movie industry leaders’ desire to field the most popular productions for children and family audiences, so that the most money could be made to subsidize a host of “worthy” film-related services and advocacies.

Not without a fight

The intent may have been admirable, but the resulting decline in quality was reprehensible, because, the “only-Filipino-productions” festival was originally conceptualized to precisely showcase the best movies that our filmmakers could produce.

That part of the MMFF problem persists, but it can be addressed and solved after the festival shall have reverted to movie people’s hands—where it belongs.

Is there even a ghost of a chance for this “back to the film industry” move to succeed? First, it isn’t likely that many politicians will want to give up the MMDA’s control over the MMFF—with all of the perks attached to it—without a good fight.

Tit for tat


So, who will do the fighting for the industry? Why, all of the stars who have themselves turned successful politicians! Talk about a classic case of tit for tat, this is it.

Luckily enough, movie people can count on a number of stars in key political positions, all the way up to quite a number of the members of the Philippine Senate, to do the political in-fighting for them. So, if enough of those stars-turned-politicians can be persuaded to pitch in, success could soon be at hand.

Bigger question

The bigger question is, what will happen to the MMFF after it has reverted to the movie industry’s control? We note with sadness that some industry leaders were complicit in some politicians’ efforts to subvert the industry showcase for their own ends. So, the “new” or “renewed” MMFF should be on its guard against dubious “leaders” who will work against its reforms.

First and foremost, the festival has to go back to its initial reason for being—to showcase the best (not the most commercially popular) films that Filipino artists of the cinema are capable of making. Some industry leaders will counter that seminal back-to-basics move by spreading the fear that it would result in reduced income and funds for the festival’s beneficiaries.

It can be done

However, a look back to the original Manila Film Festival’s start will disprove that downbeat contention. Before the MMFF, only two or three movie houses in Manila screened Filipino films. But, immediately after the new festival successfully showcased the best local movies, the viewing public’s colonial attitude changed, and many more theaters opened their doors to Filipino films, resulting in more movies profitably being made, eventually resulting in Philippine cinema’s second Golden Age.

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If the festival’s standards aren’t watered down, the viewing public will respond in kind. It can and should be done.

TAGS: Metro Manila Development Authority, Metro Manila Film Festival, MMDA, MMFF

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