MMFF 2017: Tilting the delicate balance

Change has come once again in this year's edition of the Metro ManilaFilm Festival (MMFF).

This comes after significant reforms in the selectionprocess were implemented in 2016. These moves have led many fans, movie goers,and film producers to wonder if it serves the industry better or worse.

The list of eight films that made it to the official list of entriesfor the 43rd edition of the MMFF were completed last November 2017. Noticeableamong the entries is the return of the industry's biggest stars to the festivalsuch as Vice Ganda, Vic Sotto, and Coco Martin after their marked absence lastyear. One of the major changes enforced in the selection criteria this year wasthe reintroduction of the "commercial appeal/viability" component.This initiative is probably in response to the previous year’s poor box officereturns.

While many critics lauded the quality of last year's MMFF entries, boxoffice receipts dipped by more than 50% compared to 2015. The Php 373.3 MillionGross Box Office earnings in 2016 was the lowest since 2009. MMFF earnings havebeen on a constant upswing since 2010, going as high as Php 1.020 Billion in2015.

For years, the MMFF Selection Committee has always been confronted withthe dilemma on whether to choose movies with greater box office potential or tofeed audiences with critically-acclaimed and high-quality films. Every year, controversieshave surrounded both the composition of the Selection Committee, and choice ofofficial entries.

Tilting the balance between quality and box office considerations isquite a tough nut to crack. On one hand, the market should be given the libertyto watch films based on an individual’s unique taste and preference. On theother hand, producers must be compelled to come-up with movies that promote thehighest standards of film-making.

The selection criteria have been constantly adjusted, re-calibrated,and modified to reflect the critical balance between quality and box office factors.To this date, however, the MMFF Selection Committee has yet to find a perfectselection formula that would satisfy all sectors within the Movie andEntertainment industry. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all formula whichwould actually suit the different interests that exist within the industry.

These concerns, however, should not dissuade MMFF stakeholders fromworking towards improving the system of selection. Much more, these concerns shouldnot discourage us from watching Original Pinoy Movies (OPM) and patronizing theMMFF entries.

The debates are best-reserved for a later date and time. For now, let'senjoy watching any or all of the eight MMFF entries for 2017.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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