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Forget awards!

By: Jullie Y. Daza

WHICH is to say, forget that the Metro Manila Film Festival is a competition for awards.

The do-or-die fight for trophies, awards, prizes has been the source of all the unhappiness that the festival – no wonder some wag christened it a peste-val – has generated and continues to generate. Nobody loves a loser as much as the loser who doesn’t know how to lose graciously, but over the lifespan of the middle-aged MMFF, many controversies (what fun!) that came to light did so because of the great divide between “artistic” and “commercial” entries.

“Festival” is a misnomer when the expectation is that it must produce a bunch of critically acclaimable movies each year. But in the spirit of the festival as a Christmas treat for fans and families wholesale and for ailing and poor members of the industry, it should be viewed merely as an excuse for merrymaking and moneymaking.

I consulted movie fans like myself, and here’s what they think of keeping out the usual awards and letting fewer critics mope and brood while more paying fans indulge their screen fantasies.

Boy Abunda: “I always look forward to awards ceremonies! But MMFF needs some kind of creative disruption! Not giving awards may just work!”

Wilson Tieng, member of the MMFF executive committee: “That’s something to consider. Traditionally, people will wait for the outcome of the festival [to patronize a certain movie or not]. Winning an award can drive a film’s box-office potential, but with social media it may not be needed anymore.”

Danny Dolor, Filipiniana and pop culture enthusiast, publisher of books about the movie queens of yesteryear:

“Wouldn’t it be grand if they just focus on the Christmas aspect of the festival? I would suggest renaming it Pinoy Krismas Film Festival.” (That is, if MMDA would agree to dropping MM from the name.)

The remaining four entries to the 43rd MMFF have not been announced, triggering speculations that the quartet might be this year’s indie entries, as opposed to the blockbusters camp of Vice Ganda, Vic Sotto, Coco Martin, and Jennylyn Mercado-Jericho Rosales. A more exciting contest awaits: Which of them will score big-bigger-biggest at the tills?