The organizers of the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) made a bold decision to exclude in this year’s competition three movies that are certain to be blockbuster hits –  Vic Sotto’s “Enteng Kabisote 10 and The Abangers,” the Vice Ganda and Coco Martin starrer “The Super Parental Guardians,” and Regal Films’ “Mano Po 7: Chinoy.” Six of the eight slots in the filmfest were earned instead by movies not made by giant production giants, including “Die Beautiful,” “Kabisera,” and “Saving Sally.”

Two days into the filmfest, there are reports that ticket sales are down compared to previous years. That’s a risk the organizers willingly took when they excluded the aforementioned potential blockbuster hits from participating in the contest to give way to indie films.

The 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival is dominated by independent films

In an appearance in the morning show Umagang Kay Ganda early this month, veteran actress and MMFF executive committee member Boots Anson-Roa conceded that the filmfest’s overall earnings may collapse but what they did may eventually bear fruit in the future.

First, she said that it is high time for the barrier between independent and mainstream films to be taken down, and that one way to accomplish this is by placing them side-by-side in the filmfest. Secondly, she said they hope the MMFF’s implementation of higher standards may compel movie producers to improve the quality of their work.

If it’s any consolation, keep in mind that this is the first time that a majority of participants in the MMFF were independent films. Who knows? In the succeeding years, more viewers may eventually come to love and patronize indie films.

The organizers of the MMFF should not get the lessons from this year backwards. Giving independent films a platform by which they can potentially get more viewers is already a step in the right direction. From next year and beyond, it will be better if the MMFF can somehow do something so that these indie films can get help in the aspect of marketing as well. What’s the use of producing a quality film when moviegoers don’t even know that it exists?

Without adequate promotion and support from the public, malls would have no choice but to stop showing the films in their theaters. If the public won’t support good quality but low budgeted indie films, they will lose the incentive to do more of such. Is there a way to stop this death spiral?

(Postscript: On another hand, would it be better if there was a compromise instead? What if all movies submitted for inclusion in the MMFF will be be shown and then just let the audience take a pick? Although given the advantage of major production outfits in terms of marketing capability, it would be an uphill climb for indie films.)




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