People, especially film critics, may bash the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) for being too profit-oriented and not fulfilling its original intention, but there is still hope that one of the Philippines’ first film festivals be brought back to its former glory.
Even with the string of controversies the MMFF has faced through the years, reforming the decades-old film festival is still possible, even if it caused a stir this year due to alleged ticket swapping, the pull out of some entries in cinemas, disqualification issues, and discontentment with some of the winners at this year’s MMFF awards.
So how can we make the MMFF a festival Filipinos can be proud of? Here are a few ways that the MMFF committee can consider in bring it back to its glory days:
Simplify the Parade of Stars
It is not that the idea of stars parading aboard floats is a waste of time (fans would definitely love to see their idols in person), but honestly, the money spent making these floats can be used instead to make better quality films.
The parade is one of the MMFF’s highlights, but we do think the Parade of Stars should be made simpler. After all, the focus of the MMFF is who has the best movie entry, and not who has the best and grandest float during the Parade of Stars.
Make good use of social media
We all know how Heneral Luna gained buzz through the help of social media (and other films like That Thing Called Tadhana, On The Job, Thy Womb, and recently Honor Thy Father). Even Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach gained buzz worldwide with the power of social media.
Living in a fast paced, digital world, the MMFF committee should consider utilizing social media more in promoting its entries. They can have Twitter/Facebook takeovers, behind-the-scenes of entries, or live chats with the directors. In fact, fans would definitely like to interact with their idols online.
Give a longer production timeline for the entries
Let’s face it: Quality films take time to produce, and the few months allotted for entries to produce their movies is not enough. Director Antoinette Jadaone, who directed All You Need is Pag-Ibig, can agree to this. With the movie being a multi-character film, the pressure is more on Jadaone herself. “[The challenge is] to create a film I’ll be proud of despite and in spite of the rushed schedule," she said.
Maybe if the committee would give entries a year to complete their films, like how other film festivals would do it, there’s a good chance that we will see quality films we can showcase not just with our fellow Filipinos, but on a global scale as well.
Diversify genres offered during the festival
One of the criticisms of the MMFF is its lack of diversity in terms of genres. Year after year, a big majority of MMFF entries fall under romantic comedy (rom-com) and horror categories. It may be risky for the festival commercial-wise, but the committee can improve its selection by offering other genres, like documentary, action, drama, and biopics.
We are sure if the MMFF would be more diverse with its entries, it will be able to attract more patrons. “It’s a Christmas tradition to families to watch MMFF [movies],” Jadaone said.
Highlight non-mainstream films
Independent (or New Alternative for some film enthusiasts) films have been on the rise these past few years, and we think the committee can highlight the best of the best New Alternative films out there. “What needs to be addressed is how to make these films reach a wider market,” director King Palisoc said, whose film Tandem is among the entries for MMFF’s New Wave category.
It may be a risky move for the festival sales-wise, but this approach will bring the MMFF back to its original goals, as intended by its founder, the late Manila mayor Antonio Villegas, back in the 1970s.
With the emergence of other film festivals in the Philippines, we are sure that the MMFF will step up its festival next year to maintain its importance to Filipino society. After all, the MMFF is part of our culture, being an annual Christmas tradition for Filipino families.