MANILA – The three resigned members of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) executive committee have finally broken their silence to explain why they decided to leave their post last Friday.
In a lengthy statement acquired by ABS-CBN News Wednesday, Ricky Lee, Rolando Tolentino and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala saidthey only accepted the invitation to be members of the executive committee because they were "excited to maximize the gains of the MMFF 2016.” Last year's MMFF featured mostly independently produced films with the documentary "Sunday Beauty Queen" about overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong, taking the best picture prize.
However, the three resigned their posts when the rest of the executive committee “took a different direction, by putting too much emphasis on commerce over art.”
While saying that some quarters in the committee insist that only big film studios can produce a blockbuster, the three of them believe otherwise.
“We believe that producing a box office hit and creating quality film is not exclusive to big film studios nor to independent film outfits. All excellent Filipino films deserve all forms of support. This support includes movies being screened for the entire duration of the festival with maximum exposure in as many theaters in and outside Metro Manila,” their statement read.
They also emphasized that their resignation had little to do with the first four selected MMFF 2017 entries.
“We had expressed our intention to resign long before the announcement of the first four entries was made,” they said.
Based on script submissions, the MMFF Executive Committee announced last Friday the first half of the so-called "Magic 8."
It includes Coco Martin's adaptation of "Ang Panday," and Star Cinema's superhero flick "The Revengers," which stars Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla, and Pia Wurtzbach.
Also part of the "Magic 8" are "Almost is Not Enough" directed by Dan Villegas and starring Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales; and Antonio Reyes' "Love Traps #FamilyGoals" top-billed by Vic Sotto and Dawn Zulueta.
The other four, which will be picked from finished film submissions, will be announced at a later date.
The executive committee said that the new rule in choosing entries is in pursuit of "both artistic excellence and audience appeal that can equate to more benefits to its target industry beneficiaries."
Despite their resignation, Lee, Tolentino and Magsanoc said they “stand committed to seek reforms in the Filipino film industry.”
“We remain steadfast believing in a Metro Manila Film Festival that can once more be a celebration of the finest of Filipino artistry. The Filipino audience deserves no less,” they said.
Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chairperson Liza Diño earlier said she had been talking to Lee, Alikpala and Tolentino before they resigned and is "aware of how conflicted they have been feeling about the opposing views among the committee members."
"As artists, we operate differently especially kung passion at creativity ang tanging puhunan at pinaghuhugutan. But there are things that are beyond our control, especially in a committee of 24 members na may kani-kanyang pinanggagalingan. Since execom is a collegial body, majority wins and that's what was followed," Diño wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.
Diño admitted that she herself is "not happy with how MMFF is shaping up this year."
"But I do understand where each sector is coming from," she said.
"Filmmaking is a business as much as it is an art. The hardest part is to find the balance so we can serve both of its purpose. Last year, nagtagumpay ang MMFF dahil nakapagbigay tayo ng lineup ng mga pelikulang kakaiba sa karaniwang panlasa ng mga manonood. Artistically, it was a big achievement for Philippine cinema."
"But we have to consider that unfortunately, the numbers didn't support that," she said, noting that the estimated P400 million in box-office earnings generated by the 2016 MMFF is "not enough to sustain" the industry.