BORDERLESS | Independent and mainstream films in MMFF

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017


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THE METRO Manila Film Festival’s first four entries were named on June 30, 2017. What was surprising was that the festival staples were back in the game, the likes of Vice Ganda, Coco Martin and Vic Sotto.

Last year, independent films dominated the festival and got impressive reviews from viewers. For the first time in several years, fans of MMFF were treated to a different kind of flavor. The viewers appreciated the entries because these went beyond the usual themes and concepts.

The films last year were Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2:#ForeverIsNotEnough, Die Beautiful, Kabisera, Oro, Saving Sally, Seklusyon, Sunday Beauty Queen, and Vince & Kath &James.

Die Beautiful of Paolo Ballesteros was the runaway winner of the festival. According to Rappler, it was partially inspired by the life and death of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman killed in 2014.

According to Director Jun Lana, Die Beautiful tackles the sensitive topic of transgender experience. He further stated that the movie zeroes in on the context life and struggles of transgenders.

The film brought honors to the country, with Paolo winning the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

I admit that last year, I was pessimistic of MMFF’s outcome. I grew up watching mainstream movies every MMFF.

MMFF films are shown every Christmas season and for me this is the time to be joyous; hence the audience must watch movies that will make them happy. But I realized I was wrong. MMFF will be more meaningful if it also includes movies that compel the audience to think. It is also good if we have films that expose the audience to the realities of life, long forgotten values and Filipino culture.

I am not saying the 2017 entries won’t show these; all I am saying is that it is high time the audience is treated to next level of film experience.

I am glad that Tim Orbos, the MMFF Executive Committee chairman, heard the clamor of some Filipinos regarding the mechanics of last year’s festival. According to CNN Philippines, Orbos said the rules committee applied a new vetting scheme for this year’s festival to assure there is no discrimination among commercial and independent film entries.

The film entries this year were evaluated based on the following criteria: 40 percent artistic excellence; 40 percent commercial appeal; 10 percent promotion of Filipino cultural and historical values; and 10 percent global appeal.

Furthermore, if it is not too much to ask, why can’t the organizers have two sets of films this year – mainstream movies and independent films? The audience will have the option to choose which movies to watch. It is a win-win situation because each genre has its own set of audience. If the goal is to rake in money, they definitely will basing on last year’s figures.

I hope this year will be a better year for our film industry.  Let us give a fair chance to both our mainstream and independent films. ([email protected]/PN)








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