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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

5 Reasons The MMFF Isn't "Right"

Mishmash, nth sequel, rehash...did I miss anything?
(Courtesy of

Over the weekend, I wanted to see the remainder of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entries that I was not able to view during their "slated" run. I could not help but notice - glaringly - that none of my theater staples were showing them any longer. I suppose I should've been tipped off by all the Facebook status updates I saw urging everyone to watch Life Of Pi. And of course, there was the much publicized non-holding of the Les Miserables premiere.

It was as if theater owners couldn't wait to change their (law-mandated) lineup.

I also chanced upon a friend's Facebook update (hi, Doc Wee), talking about her conversation with her 12 year old daughter, and they both resoundingly hate the MMFF. In a short paragraph, she has crystallized what I am about to list as reasons why, in its current state, the said film festival is more "wrong" than "right". Hold your violent reactions until I've listed them here, please.

1. It interferes with a free market system.

In an ideal system, vendors come out to push their products, and buyers, through experience and elimination, lean towards those that they derive some form of pleasure or utility the most. The assumption is that in such a system, the players in a free environment will weed out those that are out to make a quick buck only, when everyone is given a fair chance to "show their stuff".

In the MMFF, it shuts out foreign competitors, in an attempt to "save" the local film industry. What this communicates is that (a) we are "inferior" to foreign films, and the only way we can "win" is by eliminating those evil offerings when Christmas rolls around and (b) it's "fair" if it benefits us.

2. It encourages mediocrity and unoriginiality.

Knowing that a ready market is held captive, with no choice but to watch these films, it becomes easy to see why Shake, Rattle and Roll is on its' 14th (!) installment. Or why Enteng Kabisote has teamed up with whatever character Sen. Revilla is supposed to be playing for another year - who can blame them for wanting to squeeze as much moolah as they can from the viewing public, with the same schtick, over and over? It becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario: do people pay because they have no choice, or do these film producers repeat the formula because it works every time?

An interesting development this year is that Sisterakas and One More Try have knocked out the "usual" top grosser. But given that money seems to be the only criterion for this festival, are we about to see Sisterakitas and Yet Another Try in the 2013 MMFF?

3. It provides a marriage for the worlds of entertainment and politics.

Do I need to expound on this? The uneven playing field, the constant confusion of public persona with private character, the frustration of those with the disadvantage of relative anonimity, a candidate winning on nothing but the sole engine of their, there is no law that prohibits characters from either world to do "crossovers". I am aware of that.

But just because something is legal doesn't mean you should "go for it".

4. There doesn't seem to be a government incentive for joining the festival.

I would love to be corrected on this point. I would love to see the government push for tax credits for exemplary films of the local industry, be accorded cash and non-cash benefits, anything. As far as I can see, it is the big, private studios that are constantly bombarding all forms of media to "please watch our MMFF offering!" and films that do not have the same organizational advantage and financial resources to promote their products always end up sa kangkungan.

5. The MMDA handles the metro's traffic and garbage.

I can't shake the uneasy feeling connecting this point and the festival's output.

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