MANILA, Philippines – Honor Thy Father producer Dondon Monteverde said they were hurt over the decision to disqualify the movie from the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Best Picture category, a day before the awards night.
He also said the MMFF organizers didn’t give them due process.
“It’s a question of timing,” Dondon said Monday, December 28, on Tonight with Boy Abunda. (READ: FULL LIST: Winners, MMFF 2015 awards night)
He pointed out that the reason for disqualifying Honor Thy Father “is because of the Cinema One opening film, which is basically by invitation only.” (READ: ‘Honor Thy Father’ receives thunderous applause as it wins 5 awards at 2015 MMFF awards)
According to Dondon, Honor Thy Father was not originally part of the MMFF line-up announced in June.
“So basically after hearing the announcement, we felt bad already, we made plans for our film already,” Dondon said, adding that they thought of joining other festivals.
Later, they found out that another film backed out of the MMFF, and got word that they were being included on October 23. At that time, they already accepted an invitation from the Cinema One Festival to open the event. According to Dondon, they immediately informed the MMFF committee of their commitment to Cinema One by sending a letter on November 5.
“We said that we were part of the festival as an opening film and that it was non-revenue. So they got back to us and asked if we could get a certification or statement from the head of Cinema One that it was really non-revenue – which we did on the very next day which was November 6. Ronald (Arguelles of Cinema One) sent a letter telling them that it’s a non-revenue premiere,” Dondon said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He also clarified that based on MMFF rules, they are allowed two premieres as long as these are both non-revenue. Honor Thy Father was shown on November 8.
Dondon said the committee never got back to them. They were later surprised to receive the letter on December 26, stating that the movie was disqualified from the Best Picture category in the awards night. (READ: MMFF 2015 clarifies ‘Honor Thy Father’ disqualification)
He said: “We did talk about what happened, because for us, we were not given due process right away. Why send a letter on December 26, when the awards night is on December 27? We checked from November 8 to December 26 – why didn’t you make a decision? Or if you were going to disqualify us, you should have told us in advance.”
MMFF sanction ‘not light at all’
He also reacted to the statement that the disqualification of Honor Thy Father from the Best Picture category was the lightest sanction the MMFF committee can give.
Dondon said: “For us producers, it’s not light at all. The Best Picture – everyone works on that, pouring their blood and sweat to finish the movie. So how could they say that disqualifying a film from the Best Picture category is light when it will tell you that you were the best, the greatest film in the festival?”
Asked if he was angry, Dondon said he was very angry. (READ: DGPI condemns disqualification of ‘Honor Thy Father’ in MMFF 2015 category)
Still, Dondon said he’s grateful to Laguna Representative Dan Fernandez, who called for a congressional probe into the issue. Dan is part of the movie.
As for actor John Lloyd Cruz, who is also an executive producer of the movie, Dondon said he and John Lloyd have talked about the issue. He said John Lloyd, in fact, attended the MMFF awards night.
“Of course, we will give time for John Lloyd to cool down. This is the first movie John Lloyd is part of as an executive producer, so the movie is very special for him,” he said.
Referring to John Lloyd, Dondon added: “In fact, we know that in this film, he shaved his hair, and gave everything for the movie. With what the film went through, he’s very hurt about it. Now he understands the plight of executive producers like me, who get hurt if abused.”
As for his message to the MMFF committee and to the producers, Dondon said: “I guess every person should be given due process. Because you know, we worked hard on the film we made. From November 8 to December 26, there was so much time to get in touch with us. You know our number, you know our email address. If there was a problem, we could have discussed it well and you could have explained to us why we were disqualified from the Best Picture category.” – Rappler.com