Metro Manila Film Fest: Isang Kang Malaking Joke Time

I think this is the reason why I was struck by insomnia. After watching the awe-inspiring performance of Jennylyn Mercado et al. in Rosario, which I wanted to review at Sarimanok.PH, I pondered on how a huge artistic festival could manage to repeatedly make such a mockery of our arts and culture. (Admittedly, given the history of this film fest, I was actually a lot more disturbed when Carlo J. Caparas almost made it into the roster of National Artists.)

My earliest memory of this film fest was that “Take it! Take it!” incident where the presenter purposely misread the winner for the Best Actress award. I was a kid then, so the details are hazy. This is the only year, a decade and a half after that scandal, that I actually bothered to see what’s brewing. My interest was triggered by Rosario and RPG: Metanioa.

Well, this time around, some run-of-the-mill slapstick comedy (Eugene Domingo is probably the only one I love in there) won Best Picture, along with other seemingly undeserved awards. I peered into MMFF’s history and I think my friend, filmmaker Elvert Dela Cruz Bañares, was right when he laughed at how I seem to be taking the MMFF seriously. I laughed at myself, too, when I finally saw the past winners…

This year, what’s responsible for my indignation is the jury (source: Manila Bulletin):

The Board of Jury for the 36th MMFF was composed of Executive Secretary Edwin Lacierda, MMDA chairman Tolentino, this year’s Execomm, and to foster “active public participation,” a bus driver, a housewife, a public school teacher, and a student.

Aside from the nomination process, the addition of a category and laymen as part of the jury, the box-office sales were eliminated as part of the evaluation for Best Picture. Instead, the jury grounded its selection on films that “espoused tried and tested principles of inherent Filipino values,” Chairman Tolentino said.

The criteria used for judging were also modified: Artistry, creativity, innovativeness, global appeal, and technical excellence took up 70%, while cultural and historical value, 30%.

By what qualifications do these people have for judging what artistry and technical excellence are? Sure, artistry is difficult to quantify, but technical excellence would definitely have rubrics. Do they even know what “frame rate” means or how well a compositing job is when it comes to VFX? And what constitutes “Best Lighting”? Lighting should encompass not only production but also post prod. Cultural and historical value? I don’t see any historians or comparative literature people in that list. Please. Let’s not pretend to have criteria for judging if all of the judges don’t even know what those terms stand for.

I don’t mean to be a snob or spew vitriol, but this is craft we’re talking about and this is what we’re showing the world. C’mon, Philippines! Have some respect.

I couldn’t have said it any better than Elvert:

I don’t like to discuss anything MMFF ‘coz I don’t care anymore who wins but let’s be reminded that politics is to politicians, bus is to bus drivers, films is to filmmakers. We must put our priorities to where they truly belong if we truly respect quality & credibility. If we start putting street sweepers, doctors and/or scientists as judges in a songwriting competition, let’s not be surprised if a bad song wins.

On the bright side, a former student’s (Ronald Gebilaguin) hilarious comments really made me feel a little bit better:

wahahahaha MMDA? haha nagjudge yung head nung street painting?! yung puro blue at pink? national artist pala yan eh haha

Ok, now that’s out of my system, I’m back to my cheery old self. LOL. =^.^= Just enjoy the festival, everyone. Next year, I promise never to check the winners again. I don’t think the MMFF will ever change so let’s just enjoy what the artists have worked hard for.

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