Ex-MMFF ExeCom members explain why they left

MANILA, Philippines – Days after news broke that they resigned from the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee (ExeCom), Ricky Lee, Rolando Tolentino, and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala have explained why they left. (READ: 3 MMFF ExeCom members resign after official entries announced)

Through a joint statement, the 3 former ExeCom members said that they initially joined the group in order to build on the foundations that were laid down during the 2016 festival.

They added that their resignation had little to do with the 4 films that were chosen based on their scripts. (READ: MMFF announces first 4 official entries for 2017 festival)

In 2016, the 8 MMFF movies were mostly independent films. The usual entries, which starred popular celebrities and were made by big production companies, didn't make the cut. The festival reportedly did not earn as much in the box office in the past, supposedly due to the lack of mainstream films in the lineup.

In 2017, new rules were imposed to come to a compromise: filmmakers can submit entries either through scripts or finished films, and the criteria for screening has changed as well.

Here is the criteria for the 2017 MMFF films:

"After several meetings and deliberations, we resigned because the MMFF 2017 ExeCom took a different direction, by putting too much emphasis on commerce over art," said the 3 former members in their statement.

"Our resignation had little to do with the first 4 selected MMFF 2017 entries. We had expressed our intention to resign long before the announcement of the first 4 entries was made."

They added that they disagreed with some members in the MMFF, who believed that only big studios can produce box office hits.

They said: "Some quarters in the ExeCom insist that only big film studios can produce a blockbuster. We believe that producing a box office hit and creating quality film is not exclusive to big film studios nor to independent film outfits. All excellent Filipino films deserve all forms of support. This support includes movies being screened for the entire duration of the festival with maximum exposure in as many theaters in and outside Metro Manila."

They ended by saying that their resignations don't mean that they are less committed to the Filipino film industry: "We stand committed to seek reforms in the Filipino film industry. We remain steadfast believing in a Metro Manila Film Festival that can once more be a celebration of the finest of Filipino artistry.

"The Filipino audience deserves no less."

Below is their statement in full, posted on Magsanoc-Alikpala's Facebook page.

On July 1, a day after the first 4 entries were announced, news broke that Lee, Tolentino, and Magsanoc-Alikpala resigned from the MMFF.

MMFF ExeCom Chair Tim Orbos has since spoken about the issue, saying that while it was unfortunate that the 3 left the committee, the MMFF respects their decision and that there's no bad blood between them.

He added: "We also maintain our objective to provide our MMFF patrons quality films with commercial value for Christmas 2017." – Rappler.com

Vernise Tantuco

Vernise Tantuco is on Rappler's Research Team, fact checking suspicious claims, wrangling data, and telling stories that need to be heard.