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Cash prizes, please!

Boots and Joseph

CASH PRIZES, PLEASE! – As announced, Highspeed tackles more Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 issue. First cash prizes, which are not given away this year to winners – pictures, directors, actors, scriptwriters, down the line.

Some movie people are disappointed because they mean a lot during the holiday season, when expenses mount. Any extra money is much appreciated.

Perhaps, the new Metro filmfest heads could reconsider.

While at it, why not give cash incentives, say P500,000 or P1 million, to each entry. And increase the cash prize for best picture, P3 or P4 million, perhaps?

To Viva or Regal or Star Cinema, the amount may not matter much. But to small producers it’ll go a long way. With that amount they can pay whatever outstanding debts they incurred. Or serve as seed money to start a new project.

Actually, P3 million or P4 million is enough to bankroll an indie project, with a few thousands to spare.

MOWELFUND ONLY — Whatever amount collected from amusement taxes during the Metro filmfest period (from Dec. 25 to first week of January) should go to Mowelfund, as originally intended by then actor-producer and San Juan Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

Erap is called the “Father of Mowelfund,” being its principal founder.

Mowelfund, which gives medical, burial, livelihood aids to small movie workers, is always in need of money. It’s nothing short of a miracle that its head, the ever gracious Boots Anson Roa, can make both ends meet.

There were times when Boots had to fly abroad to raise money for Mowelfund. Once or twice, during her birthday, she requested well wishers not to give her gifts and instead donate cash to Mowelfund. Such sacrifice.

Actually, the amusement taxes collected during the MMFF don’t amount to much as Metro Manila theaters no longer turn over much to the government. From as high as 30%, the amusement taxes went down to 10% or 15%. In Quezon City, none at all.

For many years, other movie groups got their share. Early on, Mowelfund was the sole beneficiary. As one observer puts it, “Nang makaamoy ng pera, lahat sumali na.”