MANILA – Amid negative reactions from some producers and critics, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino on Sunday defended the selection process for the winners of the recent 39th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) awards.
In an interview on radio dzMM, Tolentino said the members of the board of jurors who picked the winners for the awards came from respectable disciplines and were competent enough to judge the films.
Among the members of the board of jurors were directors Emmanuel Borlaza, Laurice Guillen, and Miss Universe 3rd runner-up Ariella Arida.
He added that the jurors also underwent training on film appreciation just to make sure they are oriented on MMFF’s regulations and scoring.
"Bago po 'yan nag-judging, nagkaroon ho yan ng pagsasanay… ng training on how to appreciate film although marunong naman po siguro yan mag-appreciate, on the basis of scoring, kung ano yung criteria sang-ayon sa regulations ng MMFF," he explained.
Tolentino also said that nobody knew the results in advance, and even the jurors did not know the score given to each film by their fellow judges during the selection process.
He added that a reputable auditing firm was in charge of summarizing and validating the scores given by the jurors and all results were sealed until the announcement of winners during the awards night.
"Secluded po sila (judges) sa isang lugar. Nag-uusap sila [at] nagbe-brainstorm sila before they jot down 'yung score. Then, kapag nakuha na po 'yung score, hindi alam ng ibang judges 'yung score ng katabi niya," Tolentino said. "Audited po ito ng isang reputable auditing firm at sila po 'yung nagsa-summarize nito at nagba-validate at naka-sealed envelope po ito [at] bubuksan na lang po sa awards night. So wala pong nakaalam in advance, wala pong may alam [ng results]. Ang may alam lang po yung auditing firm."
The MMDA chief also explained that being an entry in the 39th MMFF does not automatically mean that a film is nominated in a certain category.
He said some criteria should be met before being considered a nominee for the MMFF awards.
"Dadaan ka pa rin sa criteria, 'yun po ‘yung mga binago natin nung tayo’y unang nanungkulan diyan. Dati rati kasi, pagka top grosser ka na, best picture ka e. Inalis po natin 'yun para mapagbigyan po 'yung aspekto ng merit, 'yung quality, 'yung value ng isang pelikula," Tolentino said.
Tolentino also clarified that he and the executive committee had nothing to do with the selection process for the winners of the recent MMFF awards.
Tolentino's defense came after producers of entry "Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel" wondered why they were snubbed in the MMFF awards.
Laguna Governor and "Boy Golden" star ER Ejercito also criticized the MMFF for its alleged "palakasan" system concerning the theater distribution of competing entries.
Meanwhile, Tolentino said that after 11 days, the MMFF gross earnings have already reached P875 million, about 35% higher than last year's P608 million.