It’s never too late for the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) to have injected new and revitalized thrusts and ideas to regain the credibility of its Star Awards. It’s high time to prove to all and sundry that the local movie press org is as knowledgeable, prestigious and respectable, say, as the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP), the giver of the annual Urian Awards or the Young Critics Circle (YCC), both of which are committed critics groups with solid film criticism background. It is imperative to jumpstart and to achieve the same prestige because PMPC has already three Star award-giving bodies namely Movies, TV and Music and it should prove its worth.
In hindsight, there was a time PMPC was problematic when some quarters in the entertainment industry raised issues about the qualifications of the voting members to assess a film as an art form and the alliances of some of its leaders to the big film, television and music companies being nominated and eventually, awarded.
To give the detractors a dose of their own medicine, the past admins of PMPC sent their members and officers to film appreciation laboratories with fun activities on the side. These workshops might not be enough credentials to lend a reviewer or a pseudo-critic but they would add up to the aesthetic skills and critical acumen of a voting member.
On the other hand, the chumminess between a sitting president of the club and a rep or manager of a movie, TV and recording productions being cited would impress subjectivity and biases not too well in consonance with the objectives of credible awarding. There were rumors of oiling up the press machine by big multimedia business agents just to get the awards for grabs—for a price, for one. Eventually, there were debates and argumentations if not backstabbing to settle disputes on under-the-table deals among warring camps in the house.
How do you then solve a problem like debt of gratitude as a feudal trait in modern movie journalism? Mediacons reek with tokens of appreciation, a euphemism for “PR.” It is already a culture easy to ignore but hard to beat. Let’s leave it at that.
What the 34th Star Awards for Movies is trying to come up is its independence from the various film factory players and the dictates of elitist and anti-poor, consumerist marketing many of us are still wont to believe—that there is such a thing as indie on the one hand and a mainstream on the other.
Of course, there is an indie film, the real one indeed—one that runs counter to the formulaic elements and promotes the untried, untested liberating sense of narrative and style no matter how big or small the budget is.
The indies today aren’t subscription to the tenets of independent filmmaking but commercial, profit-oriented filmmaking just the same as big-budgeted productions.
They are films, pure and simple, competitors in the market.
It is to PMPC’s credit that many of the nominees and winners in this year’s contest were not completely produced by giant film outfits. Many of them were done by small investors or if you may, using the current economy of enterpreneurship. It is giving a fair playing field to all kinds of producers.
“Birdshot” which won for Arnold Reyes the Best Supporting Actor award and Best Production Design for Michael Espanol and directed by Mikail Red was produced by PelikulaRED of the Red family. “Bliss” which won for Iza Calzado the Best Actress award and directed by Jerrold Tarog might be a co-production venture of relatively moneyed companies, TBA, Artikulo Uno Productions and Quantum Films albeit wasn’t a highly promoted fare which would require millions of pesos for ads and promo.
“Kita Kita” might be Star’s Movie of the Year but on the outset, it had a small budget in the context of an indie film poured in by actor Piolo Pascual and later he hooked up with Viva Films. What made it entirely different from Indie Movie of the Year winner, “Changing Partners,” a Cinema One Originals production which is an affiliate of ABS-CBN and Star Cinema?
So what if the winners were from studios as Regal Entertainment, Star Cinema, Viva Entertainment or GMA Films? Although these biggies are the frontrunners in the field, they also have their film arms to take care of the so-called main-die (a mix of mainstream and indie) concept.
These days, the filmmaking trend is already shifting to a different direction—that of a well-thought narrative and presentation. With the box-office claims of “Meet Me at St. Gallen” which starred Bela Padilla and Carlo Aquino and other hits like “100 Tula kay Stella” which headlined Bela and JC Santos and other seemingly indie productions, the rise of a new film appreciation is in order.
That is one encouragement of Star Awards being a popular award-giver that could influence the movie-going public to watch these types of films.
Is it too much to ask if the Star Awards would refrain from using the attribution Indie as in Indie Movie Director of the Year (for Dan Villegas in “Changing Partners”) or Indie Movie Screenwriter of the Year (for Lilit Reyes and Vincent de Jesus in “Changing Partners”) or Indie Movie Sound Engineer (for Mikko Quizon in “Bliss”) etc for they are all film artists—established or not—in the industry, working director, scriptwriters and sound man, respectively? They are just as active and working directors as (without the attribution Indie) Movie Director of the Year (for Sigrid Andrea Bernardo in “Kita Kita”) or Movie Screenwriter of the Year (for Bernardo in the same film) or Movie Sound Engineer of the Year (for Albert Michael Idioma for “The Ghost Bride).”
Who would ever think that an upstart like Raymond Francisco would win the Best Actor award for “Boy Intsik” which was an entry to the 2017 Sinag Maynila being administered by Solar Entertainment, also a big name film production? PMPC is just starting to rebel against the star system.
Come to think of it, the winners of both Indie Movie and Movie might be laughing to their way to the bank they need not be segregated or compartmentalized because they are just in one and the same industry.