Erik Matti to MMFF: Change your selection criteria
MANILA, Philippines – Director Erik Matti called on the people behind the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) to change their criteria for entries, and make the process transparent so those responsible for the selections can be held to account.
Matti was one of the first people from the movie industry who announced on Saturday, July 1, that 3 members of the MMFF executive committee (execom) – scripwriter Ricky Lee, writer and film professor Rolando Tolentino, and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala – had resigned. Their resignation was apparently in protest of the standards used in choosing the first 4 films to be included in the Christmas season festival.
In an interview with reporters at the sideline of the HOOQ Filmmakers Guild launch on Monday, July 3, Matti said he has no problem with the MMFF serving commercial pursuits, but organizers should change the criteria for selecting the films.
"I have no problem with having a film festival that’s for commercial purposes. But change your criteria then," he said.
"Okay, we want only movies that are commercial – that we feel that’s commercial. Wala na tayong pag-uusapan (we have nothing to talk about then). But to hide in a vision which is artistic excellence, to push for cultural chuchu, global appeal, I think it’s just... hindi maliit yung hypocrisy but medyo garapal (no, the hypocrisy isn't in small measure, it's in your face)."
The director confirmed that producers submitted his film Buy Bust for consideration. He admitted he knew it would likely not make it.
"After what I saw...that the composition changed, it was different, I thought my movie would have no chance," Matti said in a mix of English and Filipino. "It’s obvious. If you look at the entries that were brought in, it’s 30% artista (actors), 30% producer, 30% theme song, 10% brightness."
Matti clarified he's not judging the films that were chosen but how the festival is run and the entries, selected.
"I’m not judging the 4 films that were chosen, but I’m judging how they selected it. It’s the MMFF that I have a problem with and not the movies," he said.
He said he had no problems with the scripts submitted, but just felt they were the same type of films, genre, and people behind them.
What upsets him, the director said, is how no one at MMFF execom seems answerable for what happened.
"Isipin mo, 'pag sa ibang industriya ito, 'di ba ipapatawag si De Lima? Someone’s answerable. But for MMFF, no one's answerable. No one touches them, no one calls them up and say, 'Hoy! Ano ang pinaggagagawa ninyo d'yan?' Wala, so parang mas powerful pa sila sa pinaka-powerful," he said, referring to the jailed senator who called to a hearing in her own chamber.
(Think about it, if this happened in another industry, wouldn't [Senator Leila] De Lima be called? Someone's answerable. But for the MMFF, no one is answerable. No one touches them, no one calls them and say, "Hoy! What are you doing?" No one, so it's like they're more powerful than the powerful.)
Matti said that all he's asking from the MMFF committee is to be honest with what they want in the festival.
"Panindigan lang nila 'yung gusto nilang gawin di ba? Dati naman, alam namin, ako sumasali ako dati pa. Ang dami kong pelikula pumasok dyan.... Pero alam na namin dati pa na iyon lang talaga 'yung point: sino 'yung artista, sino ang producer, ano'ng istorya," he said, adding that the quality of the stories are not even discussed.
(They should just stick to what they want to do, right? Even before I knew about it because I'd been joining this, many of my films made it there.... But then we all knew from the beginning it all boiled down to these: who is the actor, who is the producer, what's the story?)
He also pointed out that the next announcement of films, scheduled on November 17, will probably have no bearing since the two front runners are always the ones talked about.
"We all know the Metro Manila Film Festival is only ruled by two front runners each time. Anyone else under that, hindi nakikita iyan (it won't be noticed anymore)," he said. "So with the 4 big movies there, the 4 other movies, kahit sino pa iyan – kahit Mike de Leon pa iyan, Raya Martin pa iyan, Larawan pa iyan – wala na iyan. Bukas, makalawa, wala na iyan sa Tuguegarao."
(So with the 4 big movies out there, the 4 other movies, whoever directs them – be it Mike de Leon or Raya Martin or if that's Larawan, it won't matter. After a day or two, that will be pulled out from the threaters in Tuguegarao.)
On Friday, the MMFF execom announced the first 4 films for the festival. These are Ang Panday starring Coco Martin; The Revengers starring Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla, and Pia Wurtzbach; Love Traps #Family Goals starring Vic Sotto; and Almost Is Not Enough starring Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales. (READ: MMFF announces first 4 official entries for 2017 festival)
In a press release, the MMFF said the 4 films were chosen based on the following criteria:
- 40% artistic excellence
- 40% commercial appeal
- 10% promotion of Filipino cultural and historical values and
- 10% global appeal
In 2016, the commercial viability criterion was set aside.
Noel Ferrer, member of the execom, told Rappler that Tolention and Alikpala had resigned even before the deliberations.
Tolentino confirmed his resignation on Friday via a tweet:
(How do you love? How do you fall asleep? Don't wait for it because they'll just happen when the time and your body are ready. When you can't sleep, like love, wait but don't wait for the sunrise. Some kinds of love are like 2017 MMFF script choices: some old habits are hard to break.)
Mga mads, may confidentiality clause sa MMFF. Don't ask me to explain. The results of the script selection speak for itself.— rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 1, 2017
Patunay ang MMFF script selections na tunay ang hidwaan ng komersyal at kalidad, tunay din may kapangyarihan ang komersyal interes.— rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 1, 2017
Patunay ang MMFF script selections na walang interes burahin ang indie at mainstream distinksyon. Ang nabura, ang indie.— rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 1, 2017
On Sunday, July 2, Ricky Lee explained why he decided to leave the execom.
"Sa mga nagtataka at nagtatanong kung bakit ako nag-resign bilang miyembro ng Execom ng MMFF, simple lang naman ang sagot. Noong una pa man nang pumayag akong sumali, nag-decide na ako na mag-i-stay lang ako kung ipagpapatuloy nito ang nasimulan nang reforms ng 2016. Sa nagiging takbo ng mga pangyayari ngayon ay mukhang malabo na iyong mangyari. Kaya wala na ring dahilan para mag-stay pa ako," he said.
(For those who are wondering why I resigned as member of the MMFF's execom, the answer is simple. From the beginning, I said I would stay if they would continue the reforms they started in 2016. But with what happened now, I think that won't happen. That's why there's no reason for me to stay.)
MMFF execom chair Tim Orbos told Rappler that while they were sad with the decision of the 3 to resign, they respect their decision and that the parting was amicable. – Rappler.com