Filmmaker Pepe Diokno pleased with growing acceptance of indie films

December 27, 2017 - 1:08 PM
Pepe Diokno.

It’s film festival season once again, which means that it’s time to troop to your favorite cinemas to catch at least a couple of the films featured in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

This year’s MMFF offers a flavorful mix of different genres and both mainstream and independently-produced films — a sign that major studios no longer monopolize the local film industry and that there is acceptance for indie films.

Filmmaker, producer and writer Pepe Diokno, who is best known for his film “Engkwentro” which bagged awards in the 2009 Venice Film Festival, is pleased with the progressive culture currently being adapted within the Philippine film industry and how it has become easier for independent productions to penetrate the market.

“I like it. When I was starting there was always this sort of war — indie versus mainstream. And it always used to be this select club of people. But that’s not how it should be,” he said in an interview with InterAksyon.

“What we should all be striving for is this large buffet of movies for Filipinos to consume. Yun yung metaphor ko talaga. In a buffet, meron kang gulay, meron kang kanin. Merong sweets, meat, may pizza, may chicken. There are different options depending on what people want, but the point is meron kang all these different ways to go, whether indie or mainstream.”

“The more players there are, the more successes there are, nadadagdagan yung buffet. Nadadagdagan yung spread, and everybody comes out happy,” he added.

Diokno points out how much more difficult it was for independent filmmakers when he was just starting out, but also notes the positive changes that have transpired over the years.

“Marami nang indie filmmakers noon eh. But the general sense was that we were fighting for something. We were fighting for recognition. Some of the battles have actually been won.

“When I made my first film, ang dami naming kailangang paglabanan, kasi theaters were not playing many independent films. The tax at the time was 30 percent amusement tax. The technology wasn’t as cheap as it is today.”

“But since then the tax has been lowered to 10 percent. The theaters are more willing now to play independent films, which is a good thing. There are so many festivals.”

Diokno’s last full-length feature film is the experimental film “Kapatiran,” which was released in 2015. The 30-year-old director is uncertain when his next full-length film will come out, and explains why.

“It takes me a really long time and I play with many ideas, then I obsessively work on something until I believe that it’s something that is ready to be born.”

“I don’t know when the next film will come out, sabi ko sa sarili ko in the next two years. But I guess I just like to tell myself that when I make a feature film, hindi siya basta-basta. Hindi siya something that I just do for the money or just do for the sake of making it. It will be something that I feel is worthwhile; something I’ll lose blood, sweat and tears over,” he said.

Diokno, who has likewise made a name for himself making short films for some of the country’s most reputable brands, was tapped by Yellow Cab Pizza Company to film Filipino movers and shakers in different fields such as music art, fashion and sports.

He himself was tagged as one of Yellow Cab’s great eight under the film category, as part of the pizza chain’s “No Stopping the Hungry” campaign.