MMFF reforms bared following 2015 controversy

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2016 11:05 PM

Organizers launch the revamped 'MMFF' that will greet Filipinos this coming Christmas season. Jeff Fernando, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Tuesday announced major changes to this year's Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) following a controversy-laden 2015 that saw director Erik Matti lash out at organizers for disqualifying his entry from the Best Picture category. 

For one, a revised criteria now puts emphasis on Cinematic Attribute and Technical Excellence (40%), as well as Audience Appeal and Overall Impact (40%). The Global Appeal and the Filipino Sensibility benchmarks have been reduced to 10% each. 

Another major change is that producers will now have to submit a finished film by September 28, a far cry from past competitions which only demanded a script for inclusion in the list of possible entries. 

A new logo will also be decided via a competition, doing away with the 2010-created logo that featured the map of Metro Manila and stars that represented each city and municipality. Organizers have also called for submissions on a possible theme and official song. 

This year will also see the merging of the main competition and the "new wave" category, which is usually reserved for budding independent filmmakers. It means that instead of one, there will be two competitions: one for full-length films and another for shorts. 

Other changes include the addition of a "People's Choice Award" and a "Children's Choice Award," select cinemas that will screen classic entries, a bigger and more interactive parade, and a more formal awards night. 

The controversy

In January, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said the House Committee on Metro Manila Development discovered a conflict of interest which may have influenced the decision to disqualify Matti's "Honor Thy Father" from the Best Picture category. 

Castelo said MMFF executive committee member Dominic Du had ties with the distributor of "Walang Forever" and "Buy Now, Die Later," the two MMFF entries that won the festival's Best Picture and 2nd Best Picture, respectively.

He also claimed to have found irregularities in the disbursement of the film festival's funds, and that its expenditures exceeded the allowable limit. Castelo said that P3.5 million worth of expenses incurred by the body last year are in violation of rules and regulations. 

Since then, the MMDA has appointed of a new set of executive committee members. It includes: MMDA chairman Emerson S. Carlos, Police Senior Superintendent Rhoderick Armamento, film academician Edward Cabagnot, producer Jesse Ejercito, Film Development Council of the Philippines executive director Teodoro Granados, writer Moira Lang, Bryan Ian Montaces, and Metro Manila Theaters Association Vice President Marcus Ng.

Mowelfund president Boots Anson-Rodrigo, Bureau of Broadcast Services’ Jun Romana, SM Lifestyle Entertainment president Edgar Tejerero, Motion Picture Distributors Association of the Philippines president Wilson Tieng, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, and Movie and Television Review Classification Board Atty. Eugenio Villareal are also included.