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Diño defends MMFF rule changes, says preventive steps taken

By Alvin I. Dacanay 

Amid the outcry over the changes in the submission rules that were implemented by the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee (Execom) recently, one of its members defended the revisions and assured critics that the panel has taken steps to try to ensure that the shortcomings of the festival’s previous editions would not be repeated. 

In an interview on the sidelines of the recent press conference for the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP, or Fiesta of Filipino Films) at Salu restaurant in Quezon City, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Chairman and CEO Liza Diño said this year’s MMFF presents “the opportunity for us to expose our local audience to films that are socially relevant” and, at “the same time, (cater) to the sensibilities of a general audience.”

Yun lang talaga (ang) binibigyan ng emphasis. ‘Yung nangyari naman sa 2016 (MMFF), hindi ‘yung films ang naging issue (That’s the only thing that’s being given emphasis. The films were not the issue with what happened at the 2016 MMFF). It’s the capacity of the films to be marketed nationwide,” she added.

Regarding the controversial return of the submission of screenplays to the festival, the FDCP chief said it came back out of a desire to listen and cater to movie producers.

“A guaranteed slot (on the list of the eight official entries, or “Magic 8”) would give them the opportunity to look for more investors to invest in the film. ‘Yun naman ang pinakita nilang concern sa amin (That is the concern they showed to us),” she added.

Under the revised rules, four screenplays would make up half of the official entries and four finished full-length features would complete the lineup. In last year’s festival, only finished films were allowed to be submitted.

Diño, however, emphasized that only “beautiful scripts” submitted by mainstream or independent producers would be chosen to fill four of the eight slots and be backed by the MMFF.

She said she and her fellow Execom members have set up a monitoring panel to prevent unwarranted changes in the selected script during its production—a constant complaint in previous editions of the festival.

“We will monitor these films during production. Mayroon screening na mangyayari to check if may deviation o mayroon silang ginawa na hindi akma doon sa sinubmit nilang script (We will have a screening to check if there’s a deviation or if they did something that’s doesn’t fit in the script they submitted),” Diño said.

She also said the Execom will set a deadline for such changes to be made, and if the producers continue to make them after that date and failed to act on the recommendations the panel would give them, the film would be disqualified.

In case an official entry is disqualified, its replacement would come from one of the finished full-length features submitted that have been ranked just outside the top four finished films.

“Hopefully, that would somehow encourage those (whose screenplays were chosen as official entries) to really stay true to the script” they submitted, Diño said.

According to the FDCP chairman, the 2017 MMFF would combine what’s best about last year’s festival with those before it.

“It was very clear when (former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and MMFF Chairman Thomas) “Tim” (Orbos) told us that (the) 2017 (MMFF) is going to be marrying of the gains of the 2016 (edition) to the audience participation of the previous (editions of the festival),” Diño said.

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