Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2017 Executive Committee member Noel Ferrer denied allegations that the new rules in the selection process and criteria for Magic 8 were made as a “compromise” with big-franchise film companies.
This was in relation to the MMFF 2016 controversy wherein big-budgeted films, vying for spots in the December festival, failed to make the top eight official entries, also known as the Magic 8.
It came as a big shock back then when the entries that made the cut generally fell under “indie” or independent films.
The official entries were all made by independent producers, except for the Julia Barretto-Joshua Garcia rom-com by Star Cinema.
Talking about this year’s selection process, Ferrer clarified, “Wala yung four-four. Hindi totoo yung four commercial films at four indie films.
“Kasi binuwag na natin yung dichotomy ng independent at saka mainstream films.”
On November 27, 2016, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) reported the mystery about the four indies-four mainstream formula that was raised in a private meeting between certain producers and MMFF 2016 officials.
The information was that Star Cinema’s managing director Malou Santos and Regal Films's matriarch Lily “Mother Lily” Monteverde felt “betrayed” by the festival.
The two women producers said that there was supposedly an agreement with the festival's Executive Committee (Execom) that the eight official entries would be divided between four mainstream and four indie movies.
The PEP report also stated that MMFF Over-all Chairman Tim Orbos, who was present in the November 24 private meeting, made it clear that the 2016 Executive Committee did not enter any agreement of such nature with producers who submitted entries for MMFF 2016.
In that meeting, Chairman Orbos was accompanied by Atty. Rochelle Ona, executive director of MMFF 2016, and members of the 2016 Execom Boots Anson-Rodrigo and Jessie Ejercito.
FOUR SCRIPTS-FOUR FINISHED FILMS SUBMISSIONS. As for MMFF 2017, Ferrer said that the only 4-4 formula in this year's festival pertains to the newly-introduced option for participating producers to submit entries in the form of a script or a finished film.
The Magic 8 will consist of four scripts and four finished films to be submitted on June 15 and October 30, respectively.
This move, according to Noel, was to address concerns of producers who hope to gain investors and advertisers for the four script entries that will make the cut as early as June 15.
He explained, “Parang two chances of winning.
“Kung hindi natanggap yung pelikula mo sa script pa lang, puwede mo gawin pelikula.
“By October, kapag may hindi naka-comply sa mga naunang nag-submit na apat na scripts, puwedeng punan ng manggagaling dun sa finished films.
“Walang manggagaling na No. 6 o No. 7 [next in rank] na option dun sa scripts. Apat lang talaga ang pipiliin [sa mga magsa-submit ng June 15].”
Together with MMFF Execom members Rolando Tolentino (U.P. Film Institute) and Mel Chionglo (film director), Ferrer led the official launch of MMFF 2017 at the headquarters of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Tuesday, May 9.
NEW SELECTION CRITERIA. Another major change in this year’s festival is the selection criteria as seen below:
1. Forty percent for artistic excellence (Mainly, quality films)
2. Forty percent for commercial appeal (Mainly, commercial viability plus marketing plan)
3. Ten percent for Filipino cultural and/or historical value (How it reflects Filipino social realities, legends, folklore)
4. Ten percent for global appeal (Can be shown in international film fest)
It should be noted that commercial viability or box-office potential of a film entry was not a primary consideration in last year’s for-Filipino-films-only festival.
In particular, “audience appeal” was lumped along with “story” and “over-all impact” under one category with 40 percent share in the selection criteria.
Artistic and technical excellence, according to the 2016 selection committee, was the deciding factor.
But for MMFF 2017, “commercial appeal” alone was allotted 40 percent in the selection criteria.
This was similar to MMFF 2015's 50 percent share for commercial viability.
PEP.ph asked: Were the changes in this year's festival rules brought about by MMFF 2016 issues?
Ferrer answered: “We’re really just talking about a marketing plan.
“Because last year, we had really good quality films.
"Ang nangyari, the Execom had to help sell everyone, kasi nga yung iba wala talagang pera or resources to promote their films.
“We came to the rescue para magkaroon ng omnibus trailers for everyone.
“This year, while ang major consideration talaga is quality, sana yung bawat filmmaker may plano kung paano i-market yung pelikula.
“Kasi kung ita-tackle mo lang ‘yan, talagang kahit saang film fest, mahirapan talaga mag-survive yung mga pelikula.”
Ferrer was the festival spokesperson and representative of Alfred Vargas, a 2016 Execom member and Quezon City fifth district representative.
MMFF 2017 "BACKSLIDING"? But former MMFF 2016 Execom member Ed Cabagnot was dismayed by the changes in the MMFF 2017 rules.
On his Facebook post last May 6, Cabagnot said that the festival committee is “backsliding” from the revolutionary changes made during the MMFF 2016, following the MMFF 2015 scandal.
Last year’s festival, as it happened, gave priority to artistic excellence in the eight festival entries as well as ensured a level playing field both for mainstream and independent producers.
Ferrer clarified, however, that MMFF 2017’s new rules will ensure that the “quality” of the eight official entries will not be sacrificed for the sake of commercial appeal.
He explained, “Ako naman, change in order to work should be more inclusive rather than divisive and marginalizing certain sectors.
“Ito talaga, hindi against you, or us against everyone else.
“Gusto natin, ito yung film fest natin. Hindi kami kami. Hindi tayo tayo.
“Tayong lahat may taya dito.”
He also assured that the selection committee members for MMFF 2017 will not make any “compromise” in terms of choosing quality festival entries.
According to Ferrer, at least one selection committee member being tapped is a national artist.
He added, “So, sana magtulungan na lang tayo.
“Be happy for the Metro Manila Film Fest and how it’s shaping to be.”