The Metro Manila Film Festival has done a seismic shift. Not only it surprised the audience that anticipates the film event every year, it also shocked film workers, the production outfits and the big stars.
MMFF’s credibility as a film festival have been in question for years. While most festivals have a solid reputation of raising the profiles of the participating filmmakers and introducing films with artistic integrity, the same thing cannot be said of MMFF’s recent editions.
Every year, we get to see the same kind of movies in MMFF. Even the actors are the same familiar faces fielded to star in film entries, which are mostly film franchises or sequels.
If the 2012 edition of the MMFF was a prelude to this year’s film affair, then producers and film outfits who join the festival each year should have realized by then that it’s imperative to do a big switch, too.
In the 38th MMFF, Thy Womb, an indie film by Brillante Mendoza, was the most decorated film of the awards night. It walked home bagged seven major awards including Best Actress for Nora Aunor, the highly-coveted Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award, Best Director for Mendoza, Best Original Story, Gender Sensitive Award, Best Cinematography and Best Production Design. It however lost to Star Cinema’s family drama One More Try in the Best Picture competition.
Last Friday, MMFF organizers made an announcement that surprised the festival audience. There are no big films in the list, which means no big stars, too. The film entries, which the MMFF selection committee led by University of the Philippines professor Nick Tiongson called the “Magic 8,” were chosen based on their story, creativity and technical excellence.
The new rules say, the conditions for the choice of finalists are built on story, audience appeal, overall impact (40 percent); cinematic attributes and technical excellence (40 percent); global appeal (10 percent); and Filipino sensibility (10 percent).
These are the same rules that put Vic Sotto’s Enteng Kabisote 10, Vice Ganda and Coco Martin’s Super Parental Guardian and Richard Yap’s Mano Po 7 to their proper places.
The “Magic 8” includes: Die Beautiful directed by Jun Robles Lana, starring Paolo Ballesteros; Kabisera, directed by Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido and stars Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Jason Abalos, Victor Neri and Rj Agustin; Saving Sally, a film Avid Liongoren and top billed by Rhian Ramos and Enzo Marcos; Seklusyon helmed by Erik Mattifeaturing Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano,Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman and JR Versales; Sunday Beauty Queen by Baby Ruth Villarama starring Hazel Perdid, Maylyn Jacobo, Cherry Bretania and Leo Selomenio; Vince & Kath & James (Star Cinema) directed by Ted Boborol and stars Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia and Ronnie Alonte; Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: Forever is Not Enough directed by Marlon Rivera topbilled by Eugene Domingo and Chris Martinez; and Oro directed by Alvin Yapan, starring Joem Bascon.
The MMFF is always full of surprises either it’s a scandal or a major change in its guidelines in choosing the films entries including the Best Film. But MMFF is definitely headed in the right direction. It will no longer be branded as a unique festival that only allows formula and big films to be part of its selection.