Episode 183: A Metro Manila Film Fest That’s Actually Worth Watching (Part 2)


Last week, I talked a bit about the changes the annual Metro Manila Film Festival has taken and how it looks like there’s a new found appreciation of ensuring that quality films make it in. They did away with the ridiculous criteria of commercial viability that is actually half of what makes a film eligible to be in the old MMFF, which is precisely why a lot of films were geared towards the most juvenile movies you could think of. Why produce a quality film for the MMFF when all you needed was schlock that was sure to make money, right?

Well, with the new criteria in place that focuses on making sure that films with some artistic merit can enter, I do have to say that this year’s Metro Manila Film Fest looks like something I can be excited for. For once, there is actually a film that I wanna watch: Saving Sally, a movie that has been in production for 10 years, apparently! Okay, it’s just one movie but that one movie more than any other MMFF that has come and gone. That’s is an accomplishment!

This improvement didn’t come with a rather weird price as a lot of movie goers and movie studios are miffed at the MMFF now. The regular people that love watching the trashy films of the old MMFF are mad because the trashy films aren’t there anymore. And the movie studios that produce the said trashy films don’t like that their “quality” movies didn’t make it in this year’s lineup, a time when no foreign films can interfere with their box office dominance.

Now, I do find this kind of weird as, well, the idea of most film festivals is to show really, really high quality films. And I would think that the Metro Manila Film Festival’s origins fall in that category. But, yes, there are people that are upset and can’t believe that movies shown during the MMFF can’t be held to a higher standard than the rest of the commercial films that are shown throughout the year. The head of Regal films said that she hopes that the rules will be changed as she believes that the MMFF is for children and… poor people?

Well, I think that’s what she said. Here’s the quote:

“after this year, they should understand. It’s not that I’m teaching them, it’s something that… all these poor people, like (class) C, D, E… meron silang bonus (they have bonus). Once they get their bonus, they bring the whole family to the movies to watch.”

Look, I don’t want to sound like an elitist (but I know I’m going to sound like one), but really? She is saying that it’s okay to produce really stupid films and show them during the “prestigious” MMFF because, hey, poor people! It’s like she’s saying that these people don’t deserve good movies and only want to watch movies that don’t challenge the mind or make you think.

Imagine if this was the way movie producers thought all the time. Imagine if they believed that a movie like the last live-action Transformers was worth being shown in a reputable film festival because it would make a lot of money. Heck, imagine a world where the last Transformers was good enough to be nominated for Best Picture in the Oscars! You would think that would be a joke, right? Well, guess what? Paramount Pictures thought so! They even put up a web site nominating it for, not only Best Picture but Best Director for Michael Bay and Best Adapted Screenplay as well!

"I'd like to thank the Academy..."

“I’d like to thank the Academy…”

And I guess that’s what mainstay MMFF actors like Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto think of their films. They think they’re producing quality work… which is funny because their track record at doing just that is spotty at best. In fact, the two films that were rejected, The Super Parental Guidance from Vice Ganda and Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers from Vic Sotto, were already shown weeks before the MMFF and, as expected, both films did well at the box office. Vice Ganda’s film reportedly made P300 million so far. But the official reviews for the film have been, as expected, terrible.

Look, I get it. There are going to be times when you just want to watch some drivel. Something where you can just veg out for an hour or so and not think. That’s fine. But to do so during something like an annual film festival that’s supposed to show that Filipino movies can be globally recognized and that’s supposed to show that we can make entertaining and thought provoking films? We have to leave that kind of stupidity out the door!

Am I against local movie studios producing really corny films over and over again? Not really. There’s always going to be room for mindless entertainment. And we do get this kind of mindless entertainment all year round. But am I against local movie studios defending their practice of producing really corny films over and over again during the Metro Manila Film Festival, a time when we’re supposed to put our best foot forward and declare to the world that, yes, the Filipino can make good films? Yes. A thousand times yes.

With that being said, this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is actually happening next week. And, you know what, since I will actually be going out to watch Saving Sally, I might as well write about what this year’s MMFF feels like and if it actually feels any different from previous years. See you then!


Do you think that the previous MMFF films were of actual good quality? Let me know in the comments section below!

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