MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Three members of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee (ExeCom) have resigned following the announcement of the first 4 official entries to the festival. (READ: MMFF announces first 4 official entries for 2017 festival)
According to the Saturday, July 1 Facebook posts of directors Erik Matti and Babyruth Villarama, Rolando Tolentino, Ricky Lee, and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala have resigned from the ExeCom. In a text message to Rappler on July 2, ExeCom member Noel Ferrer said that Magsanoc-Alikpala resigned before they deliberated on the festival entries.
Matti and Villarama had films in the MMFF 2016. Villarama's Sunday Beauty Queen won 4 awards including Best Picture, while Matti's Seklusyon won 8 awards, including Best Director. (FULL LIST: Winners, MMFF 2016 Gabi ng Parangal)
Matti asked his followers why they thought the 3 ExeCom members resigned.
Also on Facebook, Villarama praised the 3 former ExeCom members, saying, "Bravo to Kara Magsanoc Alikpala, Rolando Tolentino, and Ricky Lee for having the balls to stand against a self-destructing system."
Tolentino, Lee, and Magsanoc-Alikpala have not explained why they left.
Tolentino announced his resignation on Friday, June 30, saying on Facebook: "As of this morning, I sent my resignation as Chair of the Rules Committee and as member of the 2017 MMFF ExeCom. I'll leave it at that."
Also on Friday, Tolentino tweeted: "Paano umibig? Paano makatulog? 'Wag antayin dahil kusang darating pag hinog ang oras at katawan. 'Pag 'di makatulog, tulad sa pag-ibig, mag-antay pero 'wag antayin ang pagsikat ng araw. 'May pag-ibig na parang 2017 MMFF script choices: some old habits are hard to break."
(How do you love? How do you fall asleep? Don't wait for it because they'll just happen when the time and your body are ready. When you can't sleep, like love, wait but don't wait for the sunrise. Some kinds of love are like 2017 MMFF script choices: some old habits are hard to break.)
Paano umibig? Paano makatulog? Wag antayin dahil kusang darating pag hinog ang oras at katawan. — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) June 30, 2017
Pag di makatulog, tulad sa pag-ibig, mag-antay pero wag antayin ang pagsikat ng araw. — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) June 30, 2017
May pag-ibig na parang 2017 MMFF script choices: some old habits are hard to break. — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) June 30, 2017
When Rappler reached out to him for comment, Tolentino said that they have a confidentiality agreement with the MMFF organizers and cannot discuss their reasons for resigning.
"Patunay ang MMFF script selections na tunay ang hidwaan ng komersyal at kalidad, tunay din may kapangyarihan ang komersyal interes," he added. "Patunay ang MMFF script selections na walang interes burahin ang indie at mainstream distinksyon. Ang nabura, ang indie."
(The MMFF script selections prove the real conflict between commercial and quality, commercial interest really does have power. The MMFF script selections prove that there is no interest in erasing the distinction between mainstream and indie. What was erased was indie.)
Mga mads, may confidentiality clause sa MMFF. Don't ask me to explain. The results of the script selection speak for itself. — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 1, 2017
Patunay ang MMFF script selections na tunay ang hidwaan ng komersyal at kalidad, tunay din may kapangyarihan ang komersyal interes. — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 1, 2017
Patunay ang MMFF script selections na walang interes burahin ang indie at mainstream distinksyon. Ang nabura, ang indie. — rolando tolentino (@rolandtolentino) July 1, 2017
Without the 3, the 2017 MMFF ExeCom is composed of 21 members, including Senator Grace Poe and Batangas congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto.
'Amicably parted ways'
In a text message to Rappler, MMFF ExeCom Chair Tim Orbos said: "Though it is unfortunate that Mr Rolando Tolentino, Mr Ricky Lee, and earlier Ms Kara Alikpala resigned as ExeCom members, we respect their decision and have amicably parted ways."
He added: "We also maintain our objective to provide our MMFF patrons quality films with commercial value for Christmas 2017."
ExeCom member Ferrer also gave his own statement, saying that the committee respects their decision to leave, whatever their reasons may be. "Besides, some of Ricky [Lee's] films too, we were earlier informed, are to be submitted as finished films. We have always admired his integrity," continued Ferrer.
"Personally, I respect Rolando's opinion and reasons for resigning," said Ferrer. "I know that he knew the group's dynamics from the start as he was the Chairman of the Rules Committee that drafted the rules for the separate script and finished film submissions.
"We feel for everyone who were not part of the first 4 official entries. But as Ed Lejano and I pointed out, hindi natin dapat isuko ang laban (we shouldn't give up on the fight). If we feel that excellent films ought to be part of this year's MMFF lineup and that indie films were marginalized, then we should fight for them. Even if we quit, the MMFF will still go on anyway. If we see its potential in doing something good for the industry, as we still do – proof of it is that most of the producers, even indie or mainstream, still have the intention of joining and to put it bluntly, earning from it – then we should continue guarding our gains from the past and change it from within.
"It is a tedious, tricky, and difficult balancing act as we also have beneficiaries to subsidize. But we cannot give up on the MMFF just yet, as it still has the most viable playdate compared to all the other local festivals, thus, it'll always be an arena for struggle."
Screening of MMFF films traditionally starts on December 25, a highly coveted opening date for movies. The movies usually run from the end of December to the first week of January, when the holidays allow more people to go to the theaters. – Rappler.com