Jan 4, 2010

[Philippines] The Value of the MMFF?

Normally Mondays are reserved for reviews of new movies, but the MMFF is still on-going, so I don't have anything for you.

I admit that I'm really not big on local movies. Call me a bastard or whatever, but I've yet to really encounter a Filipino movie that really got me excited to watch it. Our stories tend to be highly predictable or seem to be following a classic story template that has been re-hashed with different actors over and over again. Our comedy is slapstick. Our dramas involve over-acting and over-used plot twists. The list goes on and on.

Then we come to the curse of the local film industry - the Metro Manila Film Festival. While during its conception it was meant to be a showcase of the creativity of local filmmakers, something that we hoped could one day be compared to the likes of Sundance or Cannes, but instead it feels more like a blight upon the local movie world. The "problem" is that only MMFF movies are showing during these few weeks starting on Christmas day and thus we end up getting delayed releases for popular foreign movies that debut around Christmas, plus we have no other recourse but to watch local movies.

Many would chastise me for saying something like this and would argue that I should do more to support local movies, but frankly what is there for us to support anymore?

The first bad sign of the MMFF is the fact that many of the movies now have numbers in their names. I don't mean their stories involve mathematics or anything suitably geeky like that, but instead we get SEQUELS during the film festival. Sure, movies like Mano Po may have been interesting when they first hit the MMFF scene many years ago. But then the studios decided that if it worked once, why not again? And thus they have just continued the same story over and over again until we've reached a point where I don't even know what iteration of the movie we're on. Shake, Rattle and Roll? Why is this even a festival movie? Oh, and don't get me started on the never ending Panday series. How can sequels be original?

*Photo by Bret Newton, www.pound4pound.com / w...Image via Wikipedia

Plus we get the required superhero movie now as part of the film festival. This year it wasn't just a superhero film but it was also a token celebrity taken out of his element film. In this case, Wapakman features boxing champ Manny Pacquiao as a superhero. "Wapak" refers to the sound his fist theoretically makes as he punches someone. Brilliant.

Oh, and we still get the token Vic Sotto / Joey Marquez comedy too. At least it wasn't a pseudo superhero epic this time around. But still, we can't we feature new talent? Why do the studios put forward the same people over and over again? Bong Revilla in a yet another Panday movie also falls into the category.

The MMFF movies don't seem all that different from the typical movies that are shown throughout the regular movie year, and that's just sad. Where's the value in supporting the festival and local films of theoretically high quality when we as movie viewers get shafted year after year with this kind of repetitive, redundant and cliched drivel? Where is the creative spirit? Where are the movies truly worth showcasing? What dignity does our local film industry have left anyway?

Thankfully, we now have IMAX theaters in the country which luckily remain immune to the MMFF movie mandate and thus have shown James Cameron's Avatar all throughout the month. Given this, I bet Avatar has certainly become either the most-watched or at least the most sought-after movie shown during the film fest season this year, haha.

So I am sticking to my yearly tradition of avoiding the MMFF like the Black Death and hoping to weather this annual storm until more decent movies return to the screen in January.

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