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Well, I’m afraid the MMFF is sucking whatever life force is left from Philippine Cinema December 29, 2012

Posted by quiapo in Musings / Random Thoughts.
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This is a reaction to the article written by Jose Javier Reyes for The Philippine Daily Inquirer (here’s the link) the meat of which says that “The MMFF is only a film fest by name; it is actually a fiesta. Better yet, it is the biggest tiangge  (flea market) that opens on the day Christ was born. And there is nothing wrong with that.” In other words, the MMFF just wants your money. Film making is a business. Businesses are made to earn money. Period.


I’m really disappointed with what I just read, especially since Jose Javier Reyes IS an award winning scriptwriter and director.

This is the type of mentality that doomed Philippine Cinema in the first place… When producers make movies purely for the sake of profit, they just rehash and rehash stories and plots and characters that they kill innovation in local films. And when you lose that innovative spirit, you fail. This is similar to what happened to companies like HP, Sharp, RIM, Yahoo, and even Sony. Even Apple is suffering from a lack of innovation ever since Steve Jobs died.

While in the short term, producers will make money by making a yearly update to their MMFF franchise, in the long term they are just killing Philippine cinema. How could an industry survive if it only makes money once a year, during the week between Christmas and New Year?

Let’s compare Apple with the local movie industry, before, Apple was a very innovative company, it launched the IPod, then the IPhone, then the IPad. But recently, we have not seen any real innovation from the company, they just upgrade the specs (better screen resolution, better processor, lighter weight, better camera) of each of their products’ successive iteration.  This is akin to local cinema’s yearly iterations/rehash/recycling of Shake Rattle and Roll, Enteng Kabisote, a Bong Revilla film, and an ER Ejercito flick that tries hard to feel indie (but fails miserably). Now back to Apple – with this lack of innovation from the purportedly most innovative company in the world, investors and stock traders are very concerned that Apple would not be able to sustain the company’s growth momentum and become a stagnant appliance company.

Sadly, the local film industry isn’t only stagnant, it is dead. It was prostituted, raped, and then murdered by the same producers that make the MMFF films.  Its ghost haunts us (Shake Rattle and Roll pun intended) every Christmastime with the MMFF, but for the most part, it is dead. Just how dead is local cinema? It’s is soooo dead that ordinary people still have a stigma against watching local movies during any other time of the year except Christmas. Aside from John Lloyd Cruz romantic comedies from Star Cinema and adulterous films from Viva starring Anne Curtis, people just don’t watch local movies anymore. Case in point, I Doobidoobidoo is one of the best local films made this year, and yet almost no one watched it despite the movie’s bankable stars. This is also what happened with other great local films like Here Comes the Bride, Bwakaw, and to a lesser extent, Kimi Dora.

As for the author’s claims that MMFF movies earn a ton of money, well, they earn money simply because there are NO OTHER options available AND people have a lot of cash during this time. I doubt the festival’s highest grossing pic, Sisterakas will have the same box office numbers if movies like Les Mis and The Hobbit are allowed to compete with it. It might still be profitable, but it wouldn’t be that profitable.

It’s ironic that despite the blatant commercialism at the heart of the MMFF right now, the movies only earn that much money because of a protectionist law. Until mainstream producers change this ugly “pera pera” mentality, they will only be able to earn money during the MMFF.