There are several innovations that will take effect in the 42nd edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival this 2016.
This was announced by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), which organizes the annual MMFF.
It will be recalled that the MMFF came under fire last year because of major issues, including the disqualification of the entry Honor Thy Father from the Best Picture category. This Erik Matti film starred John Lloyd Cruz and Meryll Soriano.
(Read: Honor Thy Father disqualified from MMFF Best Picture race)
"We all know for a fact na nagkaroon ng maraming issues ang 2015 MMFF and by reason of these issues that cropped up, nagkaroon po tayo ng shakedown o pagbabago," said Atty. Emerson Carlos, the current MMDA chairman and concurrent head of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
He met with members of the media earlier today, April 14, for the first press conference of MMFF 2016.
"Ang pagbabago po ay nagsimula sa pagtatalaga ng bagong members ng MMFF Executive Committee.
"It's a mix of the old and the new. It's a mix of old government and private entities.
"It's a mix of producers, theater owners but one thing unites us all: all of these are stakeholders of the film industry at nagmamahal po sa pelikulang Pilipino.
"We hope the Execom will bring about changes that we want and changes that we need.
"We acknowledge the fact that the MMFF Execom is a transition committee.
"Alam natin there is a bill being drafted and will be filed in the next Congress, which will ultimately govern the MMFF in the future.
"This transition executive committee, as well call ourselves, will Siguro good for 2016 or even 2017.
"Pero mandate namin sa sarili namin na hanggang 2016 lang kami dahil may change of administration in a few months' time."
Last Monday, April 11, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) already reported that the MMFF Execom unanimously decided to choose this year's entries from among movies that were already completed. In previous years, the entries were chosen from submitted screenplays.
(Read: MMFF 2016 Execom to implement major change: entries to be chosen from among finished movies)
Execom member Ed Cabagnot pointed out, "A lot of people who have been congratulating us for this decision to choose finished films are one with us with the idea na wala nang bulagaan.
"Dati, may mga nagsu-submit ng script, ang ganda-ganda ng script.
"Mamaya, binago na pala ang bida, mamaya, iba na ang genre, pag film fest na, ang layo-layo ng film.
"If it's a finished product, wala nang bulagaan."
Cabagnot used to serve as Head of the CCP Media Arts Department and festival programmer of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
It was also decided that there will no longer be a New Wave category because indie films and mainstream movies will compete against each other in MMFF 2016.
There are also plans to introduce new awards, namely the Audience Choice Award and the Kid's Choice Award.
According to Execom member Atty. Toto Villareal, "kids will be evaluating entries that are classified G until PG level."
The Children's Choice will be picked by jury members composed of kids.
The Best Child Performer award will also be removed in MMFF 2016.
Atty. Emerson Carlos explained, "Kung child performer ka, hindi ka dapat dini-discriminate.
"Dapat may Best Senior Performer rin.
"Example, Anna Paquin won as Best Supporting Actress [in the Academy Awards for The Piano].
"Kung dito pinalabas ang pelikula niya, ibig sabihin ba nun ay hindi siya mananalo dahil dun siya eligible sa Best Child Performer [category]?
"Tinanggal namin ang discriminatory awards."
Unlike previous years, only the Best Picture will be chosen, removing the
"Best Picture na lang po. Wala nang second and third Best Picture.
"Hindi ito beauty contest na kapag na-disqualify ang Bb. Pilipinas [candidate], takeover ang first runner-up.
"Wala po tayong cash prizes this year dahil hindi naman siguro tayo sumasali tayo dito for monetary consideration.
"Ang habol natin ay artistic excellence."
When asked if the recipients of the acting awards will receive cash prizes, it was said that the Execom will still deliberate upon this matter.
NEW CRITERIA FOCUSING ON ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE. Another major change involved the criteria for choosing the 8 official entries for the film fest that will take place this December.
There is an increased emphasis on "artistic excellence" this year, unlike previous MMFF editions that prioritized "commercial viability."
Here is the selection criteria for finished films:
1. Story, Audience Appeal, Overall Impact 40%
2. Cinematic Attributes / Technical Excellence 40%
3. Global Appeal 10%
4. Upholding Filipino Values 10%
Each element is described as follows:
1. Story, Audience Appeal, and Overall Impact (40%)
-- overall excellence in storytelling, measured by how successfully a film transforms its artistic vision into a vital and moving engagement with its audience.
2. Cinematic Attributes/ Technical Excellence (40%)
-- the degree of creative and technical accomplishments in all departments such as writing, directing, acting, editing, production design, cinematography, sound, and music.
3. Global Appeal (10%)
-- the extent to which a film's story. characters, and themes resonate with audiences from all walks of life and break through barriers of race, class, and gender.
4. Filipino Sensibility (10%)
-- the extent to which a film's story, characters, and themes reflect and interpret the Filipino experience.
This is very different from the criteria used in past editions of MMFF. According to the rules and regulations of the 41st MMFF, here is the criteria used in choosing the 8 official entries last year:
1. Commercial viability 50%
2. Story, Creativity, Writing Excellence,
Innovativeness and Thematic Value 40%
3. Filipino Cultural and/or Historical Value 10%
Execom member Moira Lang explained that the first element--Story, Audience Appeal, and Overall Impact--takes into consideration the "commercial viability" of the movie.
"Yung sa first [criterion], hindi tayo mapapako dun lang sa artistic vision, kailangan pa rin mag-translate into a work that will engage with the audience whether it's a comedy, horror, tearjerker...kumbaga effective siya sa storytelling.
"We're not shunning entertainment.
"Entertaining films are very much welcome but we want to open the field include not just blockbuster films but also potential sleeper hits.
"Commercial viability, we just avoided using that phrase.
"Yung commercial viability, mahirap siyang i-predict.
"Hindi mo masasabi na automatically kapag ganitong bida o ganitong genre, kikita na siya.
"Many times, through the history of Philippine cinema na nasu-surprise tayo by unexpected hits and those unexpected hits are the biggest hits."
Ed Cabagnot disclosed a reminder from fellow Execom member Boots Anson Roa, "Just because you are artistically excellent doesn't mean you preclude commercial viability factor and entertainment factor and vice-versa.
"Pero ang number one na hinahanap ay artistic excellence.
"The presumption is kaya na 'yan ng Filipino audience."
IMPORTANT DATES FOR PRODUCERS. It was revealed that September 28, 2016 is the deadline of submission of finished movies for consideration to MMFF 2016.
Those who wish to submit an entry to MMFF 2016 should take note of these important dates:
Deadline of submission of films: September 28 at 5 p.m.
Competition Committee Screening: September 30 - October 7
Deliberation: October 8
Announcement of finalists: October 11