3 MMFF Execom members resign over announcement of first four entries

July 1, 2017 - 7:45 PM

Director Erik Matti dropped a bombshell when he posted an intriguing “breaking news” item on his Facebook page on Saturday.

The outspoken filmmaker said three members of the Metro Manila Film Festival Executive Committee — namely academician Rolando Tolentino, scriptwriter Ricky Lee and broadcast journalist Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala — turned in their resignations on Friday, the same day the first four entries of this year’s MMFF  was announced.

The resignations were confirmed by Metro Manila Development Authority general manager Thomas Orbos who told InterAksyon through a text message, “Basically we respect their decision to resign despite the fact that the selection process is not yet over.”

Of the three Execom members, only Tolentino announced his resignation on his Facebook page Friday when he posted, “As of this morning, I sent my resignation as Chair of the Rules Committee and as member of the 2017 MMFF Execom. I’ll leave it at that.”

In later tweets, the academician expressed his displeasure over the selected films.

Ricky Lee later confirmed to InterAksyon that he, too, resigned from MMFF Execom. In a Facebook post on Sunday morning, the acclaimed screenwriter finally explained his decision.

“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.”

(“To those wondering why I resigned as a member of the MMFF, the answer is simple. I only agreed to join and stay on in the committee if the reforms started in 2016 will be continued. With the recent turn of events, it looks like the reforms are not likely to continue. So there is no more reason for me to stay.”)

An industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity told InterAksyon that Magsanoc-Alikpala actually resigned much earlier and like Tolentino, was not pleased with the selection process.

The source added that even before the now controversial announcement of the first four entries, there have been plenty of “warning signs” but the Execom members who resigned stayed for as long as they can “to safeguard the hard-earned gains from last year.”

Film Development Council of the Philippines chair Liza Diño-Seguerra, a member of the MMFF Execom herself told InterAksyon that the resignations are “very much related to the results [of the selection].”

There was a total of 26 screenplays that were submitted to the MMFF for consideration. From the 26, four films were initially selected by the MMFF selection committee, namely “Ang Panday,” “Almost is Not Enough,” “The Revengers” and “Love Traps #FamilyGoals.”

Of the four, three of the films, “Ang Panday,” “The Revengers” and “Love Traps #FamilyGoals” were headlined by stars (Coco Martin, Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto) whose entries last year were rejected by a reformist selection committee that valued artistry over commercial interests.

The fourth, “Almost is Not Enough,” reunites the two stars (Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales) of the MMFF 2015 blockbuster “Walang Forever” and is also from the same creative team.

A second batch of four entries — to be selected from a field of finished films to be submitted on or before October 2 — will be announced on November 17.

Orbos further explained that “the two-tier selection process practically takes into consideration the nuances of the so-called ‘commercial’ and ‘indie’ films to a point that given this process there is no more distinction and all will be given [a] fair chance.”

The announcement of the initial four entries was met with mostly skepticism and even downright derision from a good number of netizens and industry stalwarts—most of whom have accused the MMFF of going back to its “old ways” and reversing what many consider as artistic gains made in last year’s festival dominated by mostly independently-produced films.

(With a report by Clara Masinag)