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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Quezon City Film Development Commission Executive Director Eduardo Lejano is the 4th member to exit the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2017 Executive Committee (ExeCom).
Lejano resigned on Friday, July 7, according to former ExeCom member Rolando Tolentino.
Tolentino tweeted: "Just to let everyone know, and I may be jumping the gun here, MMFF ExeCom member Ed Lejano texted to say that he also resigned. Kudos!"
Just to let everyone know and I maybe jumping the gun here, MMFF Execom member Ed Lejano, texted to say that he also resigned. Kudos! — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 7, 2017
In a statement sent to Rappler on Saturday, July 8, Lejano said that the festival's new rules on movie submissions spurred him to resign.
For 2017, filmmakers can enter the festival two ways: by submitting scripts or by submitting finished films. The due date for script entries was earlier than that of finished films, which is why the first 4 entries to the festival announced in July. The other 4 will be announced later in the year, rounding out the 8 movies that will be in theaters on December 25.
Lejano said that not all the ExeCom members supported these new submission rules. The remaining 4 entries, he added, would be at a disadvantage, because they would have less time for promotions before the festival.
Below is his statement in full:
"Just like the others, I am have nothing against blockbuster movies and I totally understand the need to generate maximum revenues during the holiday period.
"Early on, a minority of us in the Execom were not in favor of this '4/4' script/finished film requirement. The 4/4 arrangement was arrived at as a compromise but this did not sit well among the few of us whose votes were outnumbered.
"I still believe that the 2016 MMFF sets the bar for a viable festival criteria for submission and selection. It provided for consistent and clear guidelines in a level playing field that is fair to all in a festival perennially plagued by controversies.
"After the announcement of the first 4 selected entries, there were issues that emerged with potentially chilling effects to the film industry.
It privileges the first 4 titles with plenty of lead time for promotions. Come October, when the next batch of finished films are selected, only a month remains for marketing and promotions for the latter 4 titles.
"Whether indie or not, these films will have a built-in disadvantage and their limited box-office performance is already a foregone conclusion. Their playdates will be cut short if they don’t do as well as the blockbusters.
"Who will be marginalized in this scenario?
"It is a vicious cycle once again at the expense of indie films and their struggle persists.
"Quezon City is where almost 40 percent of the theaters are located. As the head of our film commission, we’d like to have a say where our sizable amusement taxes go in the manner that is above board and transparent."
In 2016, the MMFF accepted mostly independent films instead of the usual hitmakers from big studios. According to Film Development Council chair Liza Diño, the 2016 festival did not earn enough revenue.
Since the 2016 festival, changes to the screening criteria and the submission guidelines for 2017 were made to balance out box office earnings with artistic excellence.
Aside from Lejano and Tolentino, former ExeCom members include Ricky Lee and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala.
News that Lee, Tolentino, and Magsanoc-Alikpala resigned came to light on July 1, following the announcement of the first 4 films to make it to the festival.