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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 2, 2017

The Claim That The 2016 Metro Filmfest Is A Success Is Just An Illusion. Government Agencies Who Benefit From It Will Get Lesser Share From Its Low Revenues

DON’T GET US wrong. Like other serious film aficionados, we’re all for the exhibition of good quality films and we really prayed that this year’s Metro Manila Filmfest will hit it big at the tills. But we're grounded in reality and we acknowledge the truth that, before being an artistic enterprise, making movies is first and foremost, a business, a livelihood. Not only for the producers who finance them, but also for the theatre owners who exhibit them.

The people currently running the Metro Filmfest say they’re satisfied with the box office takes of this year's entries chosen on the basis of their artistic quality (oh how we fervently wish that this were true), but what about the theatre owners? Of course, they’re disgruntled. They spend so much for the electricity of big cavernous theaters that are not at all filled up by viewers. No wonder there are cases of theaters turning off their air conditioners to scrimp on their daily expenses.

We‘re told a big theatre chain is complaining that if this is the kind of entries they’ll show again next year, they’d rather have Hollywood blockbusters than artistic local films that do not have a big audience. And in the end, they will be the ones who’ll have their way. So goodbye to the annual local filmfest, because in the end, it’s the theatre owners who’ll be obeyed as to what kind of movies they want to exhibit.

We think those who run the filmfest now are just deceiving themselves into thinking that it’s successful because the entries got good reviews. We’ve personally monitored the mall theatres and for most entries, the theaters get only about 30 to 50 viewers per screening. We asked the ladies at the ticket booths several times: “Malakas ho ba ang festival?” And the answer we often get is: “Naku, mahina po, lalo na kung ikukumpara noong isang taon.”

So, tigilan na ang ilusyon. Because in the long run, it’s the industry people in the various agencies that benefit from the earnings who will suffer and lose their subsidies with the big decrease in the earnings of the current filmfest. The MOWELFUND, the Film Academy, the Film Development Council all have a share from the annual earnings of the festival. But with the revenue here much less than last year’s P1 billion box office take, they’ll surely get a much lower subsidy now. Sila rin ang higit na nawalan.