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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 4, 2014

Metro filmfest is not really a festival of good films

THE METRO-MANILA Filmfest will last until Tuesday, then Hollywood films like Keanu Reevs' "47 Ronin", Mark Wahlberg's "Lone Survivor" and Kelan Lutz' "Hercules", will open anew on Wednesday. The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) that handles it thinks the revenue of the current entries would be able to exceed the P700 million plus earnings of the past festival.

No official box office statements have been released yet, but it’s easy to see, if you go and really watch movies being shown at the malls, that only three entries really raked it in: “My Little Bossings”, “Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy” and “Pagpag”. “Kimmy Dora”, “10,000 Hours” and “Boy Golden” are all still struggling to attract more viewers as their theatres don’t get as crowded or SRO like the first three topgrossers.

Of the eight entries, two are true cellar-dwellers, “San Pedro Calungsod” (that should be used as an example of how not to make filmbios, especially of saints) and “Kaleidoscope World” (that should be used an example of how to make it as an official entry then be expelled from theatres right on the first day of showing.)

Serious film lovers decry that the Metro filmfest is not really a festival of good films and it’s true. It has become very clear in recent years that its primary goal is not to come up with quality movies but just to make more money at the tills. If you want to watch more meaningful and sensible films meant not to just provide cheap entertainment, then go to the various indie filmfests shown throughout the year.

And this year, the best films really come from the annual Cinemalaya filmfest which produced films like “Ekstra”, “Quick Change”, “Purok 7” and “Transit”; and the newly organized Sineng Pambansa of the Film Development Commission of the Philippines which produced “Badil”, “Sonata”, “Lauriana”, “Lihis”, "Tag-araw ni Twinkle" and “Bamboo Flowers”.

The problem is that commerce and art very seldom intertwine in the local film industry. The best mainstream film this year, “On the Job”, didn’t succeed in pulling in viewers en masse to the theatres. The top selling film of the year is the rom-com, “It Takes a Man and a Woman”, the third edition in a trilogy franchise starring John Lloyd Cruz as Miggy and Sarah Geronimo as Laida. Both movies are from Star Cinema, which failed to make its machinery work wonders for “On the Job” at the box office.

Thus, we can’t blame the mainstream producers if they just keep on banking on the safe formulas in rom-coms and melodramas, simply because these are the types of movies local viewers cater to. The Sineng Pambansa All Master's Edition showing films from name directors produced some truly good works, but they’re all turned into box office failures when shown in SM Cinemas. The public just didn’t support them at all. The topgrosser, Joel Lamangan’s “Lihis”, only earned less than P2 million during its entire run. Even other acclaimed indie films that were given theatrical runs flopped, like “Babagwa” and “Ang Pabo Man ay Turkey Rin”. The others earned less than half a million so, for sure, they won’t be able to recover their investments anymore. How sad for serious film aficionados, isn’t it?

What improvements should be done in our current Metro filmfest? Voice out your comments below.