MMFF goes online; 8 entries won't screen in theaters

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Oct 23 2020 01:53 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2020 04:50 PM

MANILA -- (UPDATED) “Virtual” is the operative word for the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which will push through this December. There will still be eight official entries, but they will not be shown on cinemas.

The public can watch the films online. All the traditional activities of the MMFF, like the annual Parade of Stars and the Gabi ng Parangal awards night will happen virtually, as the Christmas tradition goes digital for the first time.

On the 46th year of the MMFF, the reach will extend to foreign shores, as the entries will be shown even to Filipinos abroad who cannot come home for the Christmas season.

Amid this challenging times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “exciting partnership” was announced by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and concurrent MMFF chairman, Danilo Lim. There were five companies that submitted their respective proposals on how to bring this year’s MMFF to the public. However, it was Globe Telecom and Upstream that snagged the official deal to make MFFF 2020 happen.

“MMDA received five proposals, but the best one came from Globe and Upstream, that is set to recreate the Christmas that we love and enjoy,” Lim said at a press conference Friday. “Bahagi na ng kapaskuhan dito sa Pilipinas ang MMFF, bahagi na ng tradition. Gawa ng situation natin ngayon na pandemya, gumawa tayo ng paraan. We hope that during the holiday season, families will still enjoy watching movies.”

Filipinos abroad who cannot return to the Philippines for Christmas will now have a chance to watch the MMFF entries on digital platform through Upstream, while in the comfort of their homes or even in their workplace on their mobile phones. Every film entry will cost P250 and can be enjoyed by the whole family or even in groups.

“We all know the annual film festival held during the Christmas season,” Quark Henares, head of Globe Studios, said. “Filipino films chosen by the MMFF jurors are shown in the cinemas. That has become a holiday tradition and something to celebrate with the families.”

However, Henares acknowledged that 2020 has been a most difficult year for everyone. “We want to end on a happy note. We don’t want to take away the MMFF tradition. We want families to be able to get together, enjoy movies together, enjoy entertainment and enjoy each other as the year ends.

With the restrictions posed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) prohibiting large gatherings until the end of the year, MMFF considered other opportunities and platforms that can address both the safety of the general public and help the local film industry, as well.

MMDA partnered with Globe as the exclusive presenter of this year’s MMFF to recreate the traditions right in our own homes. 

“MMFF has been part of the Filipino tradition every holiday season,” Lim pointed out. “We will not allow the pandemic to decline our people their chance to see Filipino movies. The cinemas will be closed. At least, the families will enjoy the films at home. Hindi pwedeng mawala ang tradition na ‘yan.”

Last July, four official MMFF entries were announced to be shown in December. They are the horror film “Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan” with Joshua Garcia, the fantasy-adventure “Magikland” starring Bibeth Orteza, the comedy film “Praybeyt Benjamin 3” with Vice Ganda, and “The Exorcism of My Siszums” with Toni and Alex Gonzaga.

The deadline for submission of other entries has been extended to mid-November, so the MMDA will announce late next month the final eight entries.

“Muntik nang mawalan ng pag-asa ang Pilipino na ma-experience ang MMFF this Christmas,” said Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu. “The film festival is much awaited and anticipated by the public to watch their favorite stars.

“We try our best to bring solutions to the everyday plight of the Filipino people. Since we cannot go to the cinemas, we don’t want to stop Filipinos to enjoy the MMFF lineup wherever they are in the world and become part of Filipino Christmas.”

OFWs can watch because the films are streamed virtually or on their phones through the video on-demand platform.

The official partnership is also in line with Globe’s anti-piracy online advocacy. Globe is strictly trying to prevent illegal streaming or copying of this year’s MMFF content.

“We try to educate the public that online piracy is bad,” Cu said. “Piracy is negative. What one pirate’s content does, you affect the livelihood of thousands of people in the entertainment industry.

“You deprive them of their income for the hard work they’ve put up. It’s not cheap to do a film or TV series. If the producers cannot recoup their investment, our producers, writers, actors and production crew will lose jobs. I hope the public will realize this and help support our advocacy to fight online piracy. We put together an engaging content online to fight piracy.”

The showing of MMFF online this December will also happen through G Movies and Dondon Monteverde’s Upstream. 

“This is a big thing for producers who met uncertainty during this time of pandemic,” Monteverde said. “Last June, the summer MMFF was already cancelled. I am delighted with this venture that we connected it with the infrastructure of Globe. We can stream the films to all Filipinos here and abroad.

“We did this platform for content producers. We want to bring Filipino ingenuity abroad. We want to entertain the Filipino audience. We want to tell everyone that MMFF 2020 will push through.”