MMDA Chair Artes: ‘Family Matters’ snub not due to MMFF Execom meddling
We can’t please everybody,” said Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Romando “Don” Artes when asked to react to negative comments of supporters of festival finalist “Family Matters” on the results of the recent awards ceremony.
The dramatic film, directed by Nuel Naval and produced by Cineko Productions, failed to get any nomination in categories where its supporters expected it to win. In fact, Naval walked out of the awards venue shortly after none of the film’s female cast—specifically Agot Isidro, Mylene Dizon and Nikki Valdez—failed to get nominated for best supporting actress.
“The only thing I can say is that those of us who are part of the executive committee (Execom) never meddled with the decisions of the board of jurors. During their deliberation [which happened a few hours before the ceremony], I just went inside the room to say hello. Our participation was just to tally their votes. We weren’t present during the deliberation proper,” Artes told reporters during a recent press conference to announce that a summer edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will be held in April.
“What we can assure the public is that the decision went through a process—the jurors discussed what they were supposed to vote on and eventually cast their votes,” he pointed out.
This year’s board of jurors includes Laurice Guillen (as jury head), Rep. Jojo Garcia (cochair), Tirso Cruz III (also chair of the Film Development Council of the Philippines), Rep. Dan Fernandez, Raquel Villavicencio, Ino Manalo, Alex Cortez, Noah Tonga, Victor Pablo Trinidad and Lucky Blanco.
“First of all, each juror has his or her own perspective as to which film should win, and this really enriched our discussions,” Guillen began. “This year in particular, we adapted the definition given by the late National Artist for Film Eddie Romero to the criteria for judging: ‘What is a good film, a good story, good direction?’ This is so that even though we have different perspectives, we have something that we agree on.”
Guillen added: “We had a very lively discussion. As head of jury, I would say that the choices were really collegiate. We had a general agreement after the discussion on which films were more outstanding than the others, so the winners did not just win out of the blue. Everyone attended the deliberation, either in-person or via Zoom. Everyone had a chance to express what he or she thought of each film, including the individual categories like editing, performing and writing.”
Guillen then explained that discussions were necessary because “one juror might have liked a particular film or performance but overlooked another. Through the discussion, he would be made to recall what the film is about. As jury head, that was my responsibility, to make sure that everyone’s vote preferences were considered. Everything else is secret voting. That’s the rule of the MMFF. There’s no secret about that.”
When asked to explain how the jurors were picked, particularly because there were politicians in the 2022 edition’s board and they reportedly threw their weight around when it came to choosing the winners, Artes replied: “We try to revamp the board of jury as often as we can because we don’t want to be restricted by this. When the Execom was just completing the board, we all agreed not to limit its members to only those from the industry. This is so that we can also hear different perspectives.”
More taxing work
Artes said the board’s composition was also dependent on the availability of the jurors that were invited. “Jury duty is time-consuming. They need to watch eight films in just three days. We have to be thankful that they accepted this responsibility, and also took the risk of getting criticized by people who lost at the awards. We can assure you that we followed the rules in choosing them.”
Actress Boots Anson-Roa Rodrigo, who is also head of this year’s selection committee, agreed with Artes by saying: “We followed the same rules in selecting the eight film finalists. The only difference was that our work was more taxing because we had to choose only four out of 22 finished products—halos maduling na kami. However, the collegiality, the connectivity, the fairness and privacy were accorded each member of the selection committee. We didn’t ask them to explain the scores that they gave specific films. What we did talk about were the criteria for judging and the definitions of the various facets of grading.”
Agot Isidro, Nikki Valdez speak up about ‘Family Matters’ winning a single award at MMFF 2022 Gabi ng Parangal
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