After being disqualified from the 8th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, young filmmaker Emerson Reyes expressed his frustrations through an official statement.
In it, Emerson mentioned that he joined Cinemalaya in the hopes of being given the freedom to create his own film. He ends it by saying that he wants to fight for the freedom to express the truth.
Last February 27, Emerson’s entry titled MNL 143 was disqualified from the New Breed category of Cinemalaya.
Cinemalaya’s Competition Chairperson Laurice Guillen-Feleo explained that the organizers use "competence, suitability to the role, and greater audience acceptability" as their basis for casting the actors who will star in Cinemalaya entries.
Emerson and his producer, Mr. Nestor Abrogena, wanted to cast Alan Paule and Joy Viado in MNL 143—a romantic movie about a man looking for his lost love.
(CLICK HERE to read more about this issue.)
This is not the first time that the Cinemalaya committee has had disagreements with a filmmaker regarding his choice of cast members.
For the past seven years, several filmmakers expressed their desire to cast certain artists whom they feel are best suited to portray the characters of their movie.
Most of them were asked to submit videos of the said artists in order to convince the Cinemalaya committee about the suitability of their choice.
Cinemalaya Monitoring Head Robbie Tan said that Emerson and his camp did not submit videos of Alan and Joy to show that the two actors were suited for the lead roles.
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), Robbie pointed out, "Kasi dito, it should not be personal. When we view [their choices], we ask: ’Magwu-work ba? Makakaganap ba sila ng unforgettable performances?’
"Yun ang tinatanong namin lagi sa filmmakers. If they insist, they have to prove.
"May isang filmmaker, ini-insist niya ang isang bagong artista na hindi namin kilala, sabi namin they have to prove.
"Ang ginawa niya, nagpadala sila ng pictures and videos ’tapos in-approve ni Laurice.
"So you have to prove."
When PEP.ph asked Emerson regarding the screen test of Alan and Joy, he said through a text message: "We told them that we will submit. Pero hindi pa namin nabibigay yung video eh nag disagree na agad sila. Dinisqualify na agad. We didn’t refuse [to submit a screen test]...Hindi nila hinintay."
In the 7th edition of Cinemalaya, Emerson won three awards for his short film titled Walang Katapusang Kwarto. This short film won Best Film, Best Screenplay, and the Audience Choice Award.
Emerson says that he still wants to direct MNL 143 with Alan and Joy as the lead stars.
Here is the complete statement of Emerson Reyes sent to PEP via email (published as is):
(Opisyal na pahayag ni Emerson Reyes tungkol sa pagkakadiskuwalipika ng MNL 143)
"Sa lahat ng Naniniwala sa Tunay na Kahulugan ng Malayang Sining:
"Sumali ako sa kumpetisyon dahil sa paniniwalang isa ito sa mga natatanging lugar para sa mga baguhang filmmaker na tulad ko.
"Sa aking payak na pagkakaunawa, ito na sana ang magbibigay ng magandang pagkakataon para sa mga indie filmmakers para ipalabas ang kanilang mga obra. Ito ang lugar para sa malayang pagpapahayag ng mga pelikulang may iba’t ibang tema na may iba’ ibang isyung panlipunan.
"Baguhan lang ako sa larangan ng paggawa ng pelikula. Iilan pa lang ang aking nagagawang short film. Maaaring ito ang maging puna sa akin sa pakikipaglaban kong ito para sa prinsipyo ng malayang paggawa ng pelikula.
"Sumali ako sa pag-asang bibigyan nito ng sapat na kalayaan ang katulad kong baguhang indie filmmaker na nagnanais lamang gumawa ng pelikula na di karaniwang napapanood sa mga sinehan.
"Ang kalayaan sa paggawa ng pelikula ay isa sa mga pangarap ng bawat direktor. Kalayaan sa paglalahad ng katotohanan, kalayaan sa pagpili ng artistang magsisiganap at kalayaang magkuwento ng mga temang may komentaryong panlipunan.
"Para sa isang indie filmmaker, ang pangunahing balakid sa paggawa ng pelikula ay ang kakulangan sa pera upang ipangtustos sa mga pangangailangan ng produksiyon.
"Ito sana ang pinakamalaking kontribusyon sa mga indie filmmakers. Ang magbigay ng tulong pinansiyal at lugar para ipalabas ang mga pelikulang bunga ng malayang kaisipan ng mga bago at nagsisimulang mga filmmaker.
"Subalit ang lahat pala ng ito ay maling akala. Ang lahat pala ng inaakala kong kalayaang makakamit upang maglahad ng kwento ng mga taong di natin karaniwang naririnig ay hindi naayon sa panlasa ng mga taong nagkukubli sa likod ng akala natin ay malayang sining.
"Wala palang kalayaang makapamili ang filmmaker sa mga artistang gaganap kung hindi naaayon sa panlasa ng mga taong nasa nagpapatakbo nito.
"Ayon sa aking pananaliksik at naririnig, ang ganitong kalakaran ay matagal ng umiiral at karaniwang ng nagaganap kahit noon pa man.
"Ito ang dahilan ng aking pagtutol sa baluktot na daan tungo sa tunay na malayang sining. Kung anuman ang kahihinatnan ng pakikibakang ito, isa lang ang alam kong tangi kong ipinaglalaban. Ito ay ang paninindigan sa tunay na malayang sining at ang paglalahad ng katotohanan."
SELECTION COMMITTEE MEMBER RESIGNS FROM CINEMALAYA. In response to this controversy, Francis Joseph "Oggs" Cruz wrote a resignation letter withdrawing his support for Cinemalaya’s selection committee.
In his blog, Francis said that he already e-mailed his resignation letter to Cinemalaya’s Competition Chairperson Laurice Guillen and Festival Director Nestor Jardin.
With regard to this development, Mr. Robbie Tan simply said: "Bakit siya magre-resign, e, tapos na ang trabaho niya? We started [reading scripts] last September and nag-select kami ng films from October to November. So tapos na ang trabaho niya. Na-appoint lang siya for that particular period."
Here is the complete text of Francis’s resignation letter (published as is):
29 February 2012
Mrs. Laurice Guillen-Feleo
Competition Chairperson 2012
Dear Mrs. Guillen-Feleo
It is with great regret that I tender my resignation as member of the Selection Committee of the New Breed and the Director’s Showcase categories of Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival 2012. Through the grueling process of selecting the finalists for the prestigious film festival, I have come to the conclusion that there are indeed great filmmaking talents that are yet to be discovered and tapped in the country.
Unfortunately, the recent events involving the disqualification of a filmmaker and his film because of creative differences have caused me to re-evaluate my participation in the Film Festival. Clearly, the current film festival and I are working on two different principles as to what independent filmmaking is and should be. I simply can no longer be part of a system which I no longer believe in.
I respect the contributions of Cinemalaya to the filmmakers who have now established themselves as formidable and important members of the filmmaking community which I owe my passion to. It is because of this respect that I have decided to now withdraw my name as member of the Selection Committee despite having participated in it by investing my time and effort in reading through all the submitted treatments and screenplays.
Francis Joseph A. Cruz