Committee member confirms change in MMFF’s Final Four
It wouldn’t be the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) if it were devoid of controversy.
This year, however, the intrigues started as early as the selection process—while choosing the Final Four finalists that would complete the Top 8 entries in the event.
On Wednesday, the Final Four films were announced: Joel Lamangan’s “Rainbow’s Sunset,” Eric Quizon’s “One Great Love,” RC delos Reyes’ “Mary, Marry Me” and Joven Tan’s “Otlum.”
Immediately after the announcement, though, there were rumblings of discontent regarding one of the choices.
These rumors made the rounds in cyberspace: One of the original finalists was replaced by another entry. That a festival official had confronted the selection committee members and demanded for a change in the lineup. That a committee officer had felt disrespected by the supposed heated exchange of words.
Producer Dennis Evangelista posted on Facebook that National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, chair of the festival’s Selection Committee, had felt slighted by the incident.
Inquirer sought the reaction of the various personalities and agencies involved in the issue.
At press time, only two people had responded to our request for an interview.
Filmmaker Mel Chionglo, a member of the selection committee, confirmed with the Inquirer that the list of the final four finalists had been altered.
He said the original lineup included Brillante Ma Mendoza’s “Alpha, The Right to Kill,” instead of Tan’s “Otlum.”
“After much debate and discussion, the selection committee had picked Mendoza’s film over Tan’s entry,” Chionglo recalled.
He explained that the fourth and final slot was a toss-up between Mendoza and Tan’s entries, and after deliberating on the two movies’ qualities in light of the criteria, “Alpha” had prevailed over “Otlum.”
“That was the committee’s final decision,” he related.
He recounted that he had left earlier, before the formal announcement, because of a previous engagement.
The following day, he was stunned to learn about the change. “I was concerned. My initial reaction was: ‘What happened?’”
A committee member then shared with Chionglo what had transpired before the announcement.
Chionglo asserted that he couldn’t comment on what had occurred during his absence. Suffice it to say, he was “surprised” by the turn of events. Asked whether such a last-minute change was allowed by the festival’s rules, Chionglo remarked: “That didn’t happen last year.”
Sought for a reaction, Mendoza told the Inquirer: “I cannot comment on that, [but] I think the selection committee should answer and explain why they allowed it to happen.”
The Inquirer reached out to MMFF officials, including Lumbera, Tim Orbos and Rochelle Ona, who have yet to respond at press time.