CONFESSIONS: How MMFF films were selected last year

MANILA, Philippines - When the list of movies included in the Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 was revealed on November 18, moviegoers were shocked after discovering films featuring Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda weren’t included.

Change has definitely come in MMFF this year as blockbuster movie franchises were upstaged by independently produced films, something which has not been witnessed in the previous festivals.

MMFF entries 2015

While many industry icons like Vic Sotto, Vice Ganda and Mother Lily expressed their disappointment over MMFF’s revamped selection process, the screening committee headed by Nicanor Tiongson said their choices had nothing to do with indie or mainstream movies.

“It is wrong to dumb them [the audience] down, huwag natin gawin 'yun kasi condescending 'yun . Dapat if we know what quality is, then let's try and keep that quality,” Tiongson told reporters.

While there is an ongoing debate about this year’s selection process, a confession of a former committee member of the MMFF on how they chose movies last year is making rounds on the Internet.

The article, published in the December 2015/January 2016 issue of Esquire magazine, was written by Philbert Dy, a film writer/producer and resident critic for

According to Dy, the committee met two times. During the first meeting, the rules of the selection, which according to him was hardly followed, was discussed. Dy said they were told not to be top rigid about the rules as what matters is that the “right” films are included in the lineup.

After all the scripts have been read, the committee met again for the second time, this time to discuss the merits of each script in detail in order to determine which films are deserving to be included in the list.

But in reality, Dy disclosed that hardly any of the scripts were discussed. Instead, a big part of the discussion was allotted to classifying each of the films under a specific genre to ensure that the committee doesn’t choose many similar movies.

Dy also said that representatives of theater owners seem to dominate the discussion.

“It doesn't matter what's in the script. All that matters are the names attached to those scripts. Vice Ganda, Kris Aquino, and Vic Sotto are automatically accepted, regardless of how good or bad the scripts are,” Dy wrote.

The former MMFF juror said that there is no real incentive to submitting a quality script as the potential profitability of the film trumps it.

After much deliberation, the members were asked to score each of the scripts. To maintain the legitimacy of the process, an accounting firm is even hired to tabulate the scores.

“The committee has already decided what the films are supposed to be, and are just told to score accordingly. I ask what would happen if the scores didn’t reflect the list that was already written, and I’m told it would be unlikely, unless someone on the committee was trying to sabotage the process,” Dy wrote.

In his piece, Dy said that it would probably take MMFF a long time before they start showcasing the best of Pinoy cinema and this would require them to let go of the numbers and trust the audience to go for quality.

“To save the MMFF, we must destroy it. We have to start over,” Dy ended his article.

--Mini, The Summit Express

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