Fans of Hollywood blockbuster movies that are scheduled to release during the holidays in the Philippines tend to worry if those premiere dates fall on the latter half of December. That is because Christmas Day to early January next year are reserved exclusively for the entries of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), the biggest film-fest and major awards ceremony in the country. They tend to displace overseas films for weeks if they land on the MMFF dates. Much as the festival helps promote mainstream Philippine cinema, how would moviegoers take it if the festival organizations adds a second festival period during the summer?
That is the proposed plan of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) according to Inquirer.net. They propose a Summer Metro Manila Film Festival that would take place in either April or May. This was announced by the FDCP chairperson Liza Diño, and even then the concept of a second MMFF at roughly the middle of the year is far tamer than the original idea that was pitched. Said idea was the brainchild of now-Senator Bong Go from 2018, when he was still special assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte and one-time Film Fest judge.
As Diño recalls, Go was supremely impressed by the movies that were participating in the 2018 Metro Manila Film Fest in which he was part of the jury. “He asked me, ‘Liza, why does this only happen once a year?’” says Diño. Go then brought up the idea of launching more film fests in the mold of the MMFF, which each taking place at least once in every quarter of a year. The FDCP chief then considered having a full summer counterpart of the film fest in the summer, for which a proposal is now being formulated for Sen. Go.
Liza Diño sees a merit for having two Metro Manila Film Fests in a year. While the original holiday schedule has once had a reputation for being a showcase for all-ages family movies, she sees a summertime iteration as an opportunity to better curate possible entries and encourage Filipino filmmakers to do more summer blockbusters. This will therefore make three local-only cinema screening periods in a year, since the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) also blocks out Hollywood and overseas fare during September, with the movie selection in this event being of the edgier genres.
“I think we should accept any platform that will champion local films and will give us space,” Diño concludes. “That’s what we need—space—for the local film industry to thrive. [Summer MMFF] is perfect because, these days, we no longer have films for children, nine years old and above.”
Image courtesy of Inquirer Entertainment