Filmmakers, producers look at the bright side of Summer MMFF postponement
(First of two parts)
“It is in the best interest of everyone.”
This was the reaction of filmmakers and producers of the eight official entries of the first Summer Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) to the postponement of the said movie fete, which was originally slated in April.
“It’s saddening that we won’t get to watch the eight entries this summer, but I think the postponement of the festival is for the good of everyone, since the issue now is our health and safety,” said RC delos Reyes, director of “Love the Way U Lie.”
“[Our film] will be ready for viewing when the festival resumes. We’ve worked on it for almost a year. Waiting for a couple of months for it to be shown won’t hurt,” said Delos Reyes, whose film features Xian Lim and Alex Gonzaga, and is produced by Tincan.
The Summer MMFF was supposed to run from April 11 (Black Saturday) to April 21. However, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a community quarantine of all cities and municipalities in Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14. He eventually declared an “enhanced” community quarantine that included the entire island of Luzon.
This was to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which has infected almost 200 Filipinos as of press time. As a result of the community quarantine, all establishments—except banks, grocery stores and pharmacies—in the region are prohibited from operating, including malls that operate movie cinemas.
Mae Cruz-Alviar, director of the Coco Martin-Angelica Panganiban starrer “Love or Money” said she was “all for the postponement (of the festival) given how dire the virus situation is in NCR (National Capital Region).”
“It saddens me that this health crisis is affecting not just our film and film outfit, but the industry as a whole,” said Alviar, whose film is produced by Star Cinema. “However, at this point, what matters is for the health situation to be managed for everyone’s best interest.”
Mac Alejandre, director of the romantic drama “Tagpuan,” deemed the festival’s postponement “a necessity.” He said this was because “public health and safety are priorities. We should follow all guidelines and protocols. The virus is real.”
For Joel Lamangan, director of the dramatic film “Isa Pang Bahaghari,” the festival’s postponement and the closing of theaters in all malls in Metro Manila “is a big blow to the moviegoing habit of film enthusiasts.”
He pointed out that the summer festival “was conceived in order to help local industry regain its position in the box office. Filipino movies these past years have been clobbered at the box office by Hollywood and, now, Korean films. The summer and the December MMFFs are our only chances to show Filipino films without competition from foreign movies,” said Lamangan, whose film features Nora Aunor, Phillip Salvador and Michael de Mesa, and is produced by Heaven’s Best Entertainment.
However, Adolfo Alix Jr., director of the dramatic film “Coming Home,” said the rescheduling of the Summer MMFF was “inevitable, given the current situation. The welfare of the general public is more important.”Alix said he and his producers—Maverick Films and ALV Films—would simply “coordinate with the MMDA on what their plans are, and we will decide accordingly.”
“Coming Home” features Sylvia Sanchez and Jinggoy Estrada in the lead.
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is the overall organizer of the annual MMFF in December, and now, the Summer MMFF.
Lamangan further pointed out that “if there are more Filipino films that will be produced, there will be more work for Filipino movie workers. Let us all pray that this [disease] will not continue to spread and that it will be contained as soon as possible.”
Alviar concurred: “Of course [the festival’s rescheduling] has financial implications, but that is not what’s important right now. The movie can still be shown when it’s safer for everyone to come out and enjoy films in cinemas again.”
As a filmmaker, Delos Reyes said he would love to see “audiences coming in and out of the cinema ‘healthy’ and smiling as they watch our movie. There is always a right time for everything. I just hope that when we finally get to the cinemas, people will still watch and support our film, alongside the other entries.”
Prime Cruz, director of the Paulo Avelino-Janine Gutierrez starrer “Ngayon Kaya,” said that financially, the postponement is “the right move because no one would want to go out of their house, anyway. Artistically, it’s still the same movie, whatever the playdate.”
As to the rescheduling’s effect on the film financially, Alejandre said “it would be better, eventually. Hopefully, when the pandemic is over and the festival commences, the public will troop to the theaters and celebrate by watching movies.”
“Tagpuan” stars Alfred Vargas, Shaina Magdayao and Iza Calzado, and is produced by Alternative Visions.
For Easy Ferrer, director of the horror-thriller “The Missing,” the festival’s postponement was “actually a win-win situation for all the sectors involved.”
The director pointed out that “it is better to hold such a festival if people are worry-free and safe so they can enjoy our movies. It will also give us more time to polish our entries and think about strategic promotional activities once there’s a go signal from the authorities to do so.”
Ferrer, however, is confident that the postponement would not have a drastic effect on the films financially. “The moviegoing audience would, of course, prioritize their needs while this is happening rather than watch movies. Once they’re allowed to get out, they’d be more excited to go to the cinemas and watch our entries.”
He is confident that after the community quarantine, “people would be eager to flock to the cinemas again since they weren’t able to do so in a long time,” explained Ferrer, whose film features Ritz Azul, Joseph Marco and Miles Ocampo. “Artistically, it would give us more time to polish our movies and think of the best ways to promote our materials.”
Regal Entertainment’s Roselle Monteverde, producer of “The Missing,” said the postponement was “a wise move.”
“Globally, many of the major companies postponed playdates because of the pandemic. I would say we are one with others that are suffering financially,” said Monteverde. “But we need to shift our minds in battling this. What we need to do is to be smart and keep ourselves vigilant with our hygiene and other precautionary measures.”
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