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MMDA presents new MMFF execom members, criteria for choosing entries

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday night presented the new set of judges and new criteria for judging for this year's Metro Manila Film Festival.

MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos led the presentation of the “refreshing and restructured” MMFF at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, attended by stakeholders of the Philippine film industry.

Carlos said that this year's MMFF will emphasize on the power of films to inspire, educate, and create positive changes, all while serving the development of Filipino artists and cultivating an environment where actors, filmmakers with their staff, producers, and the fans of the cinema will continue to thrive.

“It is no coincidence that Filipino movies are among the first to make their mark in the Asian market many years ago. Our artists are some of the best and most creative. The MMDA is honored to serve the development of these artists through one way or another, to aid the pomotion of their work through the MMFF,” the MMDA chairman said.

He added: “In doing so, we are laying down the cornerstone for future generations of achievers and noteworthy individuals who will embody the Filipino values and embody the most noble ideas.”

Making up the new executive committee of the MMFF—with the theme #Reelvolution—are Movie Workers Welfare Foundation president and veteran actress Boots Anson-Roa, producer Jesse Ejercito, Sen. Sonny Angara, producer Moira Lang, Motion Picture Distributors Association of the Philippines (MPDAP) presiendet Wilson Tieng, Quezon City 2nd District Rep. and actor Alfred Vargas, and professor Ed Cabagnot.

“Today's Metro Manila Film Festival executive committee is an empowered assembly of film industry veterans, maverick filmmakers, private business owners, and public servants. These people are both private and government entities, stockholders of the film industry, and love of Filipino film. Bawat isa sa kanila ay may malalim na pagmamahal sa pelikulang Pilipino,” the MMDA chairman said.

While the vision and mission of the new MMFF gives importance to artistic excellence above all else, the executive committee asks the help of the Filipino audience to welcome excellent films and be instrumental to good box office turnout.

The new vision statements says: “...a festival that celebrates Filipino artistic excellence, promotes audience development and champions the sustainability of the Philippine film industry."

All the changes made in what is deemed as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the Philippines are inspired by the desire of people and stakeholders for improvement.

“This change will bring back the love and excitement for the country's most prestigious film festival. It is an evolution of what the country yearns for this generation. In an age where preferences are personalized, the evolution of cinema will involve you," Carlos said.

“We have been trying to find a formula where we can promote and show excellent quality films that will make good in the box office. That is the goal of today's executive committee,” he added.

The issues faced by the MMMFF last year also made way for discussions among the executive committee, resulting to dramatic changes and higher hopes for the Philippine cinema.

“We were jolted by the issues that were raised last season. This prompted us na kailangan may pagbabago. Hiningi ang mga pagbabagong ito. We listen to the people, we listen to the stakeholders. Of course, we will give you the change that you ask for. The change we will be giving are thought of by the very argumentative and creative executive committee,” Carlos explained.

'Commercial viability'

One of the biggest changes in this year's MMFF is the revision of the criteria for choosing the eight offical entries for both the full-length feature film category and the short film category.

The criteria used in past MMFF seasons are commercial viability (50%), story creativity, writing excellence, innovativeness, and thematic values (40%), and Filipino cultural and/or historical value (10%).

This year, the executive committee decided to put emphasis on story and cinematic attributes. The new criteria for selecting films for competition are as follows:

  • Story, audience appeal, overall impact (40%)—Overall excellence in storytelling, measured by how successfully a film transforms its artistic vision into a vital and moving engagement with it audience
  • Cinematic attributes and technical excellence (40%)—Creative and technical accomplishments in all departments, including writing, directing, acting, editing, production design, cinematography, sound, and music.
  • Global appeal (10%)—How the film's story, characters, and themes resonate with diverse audiences, regardless or race, class, and gender.
  • Filipino sensibility (10%)—How the film's story, characters, and themese reflect and interpret the Filipino experience.

Finished film, not script

To determine the qualifying films for competition, the MMFF executive committee and selection committee will now ask for the finished film as part of the requirements.

During previous seasons of the film festival, the competing films are chosen based on the script.

“If you look at the mission-vision natin, may pagbabago. We are expecting quality films for this year's festival, but quality films that could do well in the box office. Commercial factor is always desired, pero this being a film festival, may emphasis tayo. May mga criteria tayo na napagkasunduan," Carlos said.

During the presentation, Roa challenged filmmakers and producers.
“Come up with quality movies, excellent movies, but also movies that connect. Movies that will touch the hearts. Marami nang pelikula na nanalo ng maraming awards pero kumita rin sa box office. Puwedeng i-combine 'yun,” she said.

“There is this hope that producers will take a look at trying to blend both the box office and quality. It has been done. Nagawa na 'yan in the past. In the recent past, there's 'Heneral Luna,'” she added.

Selection body

Another big change this year is that the MMFF's executive committee will no longer be involved in the selection of movie entries, which will be the sole responsibility of a separate group.

The selection committee of the 2016 MMFF is composed of film actor Sid Lucero, film editor Lawrence Anthony Fajardo, actor-director and activist Mae Paner, legal counsel for the National Commission of Culture and the Arts Atty. Trixie Angeles, DZRB Rady ng Bayan Station Manager Allan Allanigue, Krip Yuson from The Philippine Star, and Ma. Crispina Belen from the Manila Bulletin.

In terms of striking the balance between artistic excellence and profitability, Roa believes that universal appeal is an important factor to excite the audience and, thereby, push for a good box office turnout.

“I like to use the word 'connectivity.' I'm proud to say that (global appeal) was something that the members of the selection committee agreed upon very wholeheartedly. Ang isang pelikula ay maaring maging napakataas ng kalidad, napakaseryoso, pero nagco-connect sa audience. 'Yun sana ang gusto namin ma-emphasize,” she said.

To avoid highlighting the commercial viability of the competing films, Tieng said that the official box office turnouts, as approved by the MMFF committees, will not be released until the end of the film festival.


Instead, the MMFF will help promote the films in competition, whether full-length feature films or short films.

The entries for the short film category will be shown before each films in competition for the full-length feature film category. This strategy is patterned from the “Pixar way,” according to Carlos, where an animated short film is shown prior to the main film.

"Tutulungan natin lahat ito na i-promote, sabay-sabay ipu-promote ito. This is one of the issues that have been agreed upon by the executive committee. And by promoting lahat ng films na ito, we would be looking at a festival na lahat ng mga entries ay kikita, and lahat po ng mga entries ay ating ipagmamalaki,” Carlos said.

The MMFF committee will also refrain from giving away cash prizes during the awards night. “We will give the winners the prestigious MMFF trophy,” according to the MMDA Chairman.

Breaking the 'barrier'

The New Wave category has been eliminated as part of the annual MMFF to give a fair chance to films from a wide variety of production companies, whether big or small.

In this year's festival, mainstream and independent films are welcome to join the main competition.

“We want to see a happy marriage between indie film and mainstream,” according to Tieng.

Carlos added: “The best indication of that is walang New Wave category this year. Every year, we have a separate category for new wave films a week before the main competition. This year, we removed the dichotomy. Kahit mainstream o indie, kasali kayo.

The MMFF's executive committee also agreed that there will be no “quota” in the genre of films presented in the festival, as well as the number of films made by the same director and the number of films starring the same actor.

“Any and all genre will be allowed. Hindi puwedeng maging partial to any filmmakers or production companies. There is no disqualification of any movies, even those which have repetitive films. We cannot discriminate against anyone,” Roa explained.

Movies that have also joined other film festivals, foreign and local, can now join the MMFF with “due and timely notice” to the executive committee.

“Kahit nailabas na sa ibang festival, basta may abiso lamang sa executive committee. As long as there is due notice, puwede. Isa sa requirements ngayon at finished products na. It is understandable na 'yung mga natapos nang pelikula noon at naisali na sa ibang festivals ay ipapasok rin nila sa MMFF. It is also practical. Basta with due and timely notice,” she said.

Last year's MMFF was shrouded by controversy with the exclusion of "Honor Thy Father" from the awards because of its producer's failure to disclose that it had been an entry in another film festival.

The people behind the new and restructured MMFF hopes for the full support and patronage from the audience and the people from the Philippine film industry.

While it may be a little harder on the first year, the members of the MMFF executive committee have high hopes in sustaining the #Reelvolution for the improvement and the continuous development of the film industry in the country, as well as the empowerment of the actors, filmmakers and their staff, producers, and everyone making up the industry.

Carlos said: “Nakita ko ito sa aming mga diskusyon. Mainit ang aming mga diskusyon, iba-ibang pananaw at adhikain, pero in the end, we agree to promote one vision. Today officially marks the refreshing, restructured 2016 Metor Manila Film Festival.”

“Nasimulan na ang pagbabago (sa MMFF). All we need now is acceptance and support from stakeholders,” he concluded.

—ALG, GMA News