Press Release
January 24, 2017

Public Hearing of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media on MMFF

In this public hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, we discussed in particular Senate Resolution No. 257 filed by Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto. We also discussed various issues and controversies surrounding the MMFF.

We wish to extend appreciation to various stakeholders present in this public hearing - Mowelfund, MTRCB of course, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Film Academy of the Philippines, the MMDA, members of the MMFF executive and selection committees, and the filmmakers for their valuable contributions in the industry. This seems to be a golden age for the Philippine cinema; mainstream and indie films can thrive together.

To sum up the hearing:

1. Sen. Sotto proposes that the MMFF be nationwide so that it will not be concentrated in Metro Manila.

2. MMFF overall chairman Thomas Orbos supports calls for the establishment of a separate film fest for indie films although we've also discussed that we can let them show together in the Christmas season.

4. FDCP Chairperson Liza Dino defines indie films as films produced by non-studio producers.

5. Mr. Edward Cabagnot points out that boundaries between indie and mainstream have become blurred and calls for re-evaluation of the present state of Philippine cinema. This is also the sentiment of Ms. Manet Dayrit.

6. Sen. Sotto calls for a balancing act specifically on commercial viability and quality of films being shown in the MMFF, as he noted more than 60 percent drop in the MMFF 2016 revenue to P373 million from over P1 billion a year earlier.

7. Ms. Diño said a separate festival may be premature and we should give the current MMFF format a chance. There is also a call for unity in the film industry to bridge the gap between independent and commercial film makers. But Sen. Sotto said we should be careful and we should listen to theatre owners and stakeholders because they can refuse to participate in the MMFF if we push them too hard and it is not anymore commercially viable for them.

8. Ms. Boots Anson Roa agrees in the changes of MMFF in terms of goals, structure, but not too drastic also. She agrees with Sen. Sotto on the idea of infusing greater quality in the commercially viable films.

10. Ms. Mae Paner, member of the MMFF selection committee, read the statement of 2016 MMFF selection committee, saying that a separate indie film fest is superfluous. They recommend legislation to turn the MMFF into a national film fest for all types of films, covering all theatres in all regions, for all genres, both mainstream and indie.

12. MTRCB Chairman Atty. Villareal suggests to have a Philippine Film Promotion Act where all stakeholders are considered; other countries have "film quota" as a promotion measure.

11. Sen. Sotto for his part says we need an enabling law, not just a proclamation. Theatre owners can't be compelled to show all MMFF participating films because its legal basis is a mere presidential proclamation. It's actually them trying to cooperate with the film industry. He also says that he will immediately draft the proposed Philippine National Film Promotion Act.

13. Mr. Leo Martinez of the Film Academy of the Philippines clarified that some of the major commercial films that were not shown in the 2016 MMFF were not included due to their inability to meet their deadline, most submitted only "picture lock" films.

Chair Orbos suggests to have a financial target for the MMFF. Although the profits were less this time, let us also remember that a particular group of people enjoyed having this MMFF. This is the first time, I think, the indie filmmakers were able to earn this much. Let's also not forget that the public also has the right to choose what they want to watch. It may not be palatable to us, but it's something that they watch and it's safe for the family and it's not a violation of a Republic Act. We should also take into consideration what is the true appeal to the public of movies produced by Vic Sotto or Vice Ganda. Excellent films were produced in this past MMFF pero wag din nating kalimutan na may mga bata ring kasama sa kapaskuhan na dapat ay makasama ng kanilang pamilya.

We also reiterate that aimal rights should be respected. If there is a law, we follow it and we do not hide behind culture or artistic expression. Inamin naman po nila ang kanilang pagkakasala, but I shall also constitute a technical working group that will continue drafting a bill, with respect also to workers rights in the film industry, should also be under the committee of the good senator here, the committee on labor.

If there will be a second hearing as suggested by Sen. Angara, we will invite you to the TWG...

To all of you, this hearing is hereby suspended.

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