Year in, year out. It never fails. Someone in your social circle will complain about MMFF. Water is also clear, PNoy is bald, and the sky is also blue. Nothing new there.
I rarely watch movies at cinemas.
Not because I think I’m too good for mainstream movies but mostly because I’m a hikikomori with a ridiculously small circle of friends more often than not I don’t have anyone to go with and I don’t want to look like a loser stuffing my face with overpriced non-crunchy popcorn. That doesn’t mean I don’t like movies. I watch films whenever there’s a screening in UPLB, and I uh… torrent most of my other stuff. I enjoy watching movies, even if just to entertain myself. Sometimes to make myself think.
As filmmaker Pepe Diokno pointed out, mainstream films are not about artistry or quality. So all you feelingero film-critic wannabes could quit whining about the stuff you don’t care about and go watch your almost-porn old indie film DVDs now. Mainstream films are all about making money and entertaining people. That doesn’t mean it can’t be creative or thought-provoking, but that’s not what they aim for. It’s the same even in Hollywood or in other countries. Payabangan lang sa production most of the time. Let’s not whine about the movies achieving anything other than entertainment. That’s not what it’s for. If you want movies that make you think, then don’t watch Tarantino. Don’t watch The Expendables. Just watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest over and over (I’ve seen it and yes it makes you
go crazy think. It’s also damn boring at points). I could go on and on but point is, a lot of mainstream films are just entertainment so that point is basically moot.
The problem with Filipino films is that they try to create a film in such a short span of time, rushing things, cutting corners. This all makes it half-assed. It’s the same thing about our dramas/telenovelas. Why do we insist on airing daily dramas while dramas from other Asian countries like Taiwan, Japan and Korea air weekly? (Sometimes they have daily dramas, but it’s not as ambitious as weekly ones and well, most of the time the daily ones are rather crap too). That’s why the script is so uninspired and the production looks so cheap! They don’t have time to get it right.
But then again, these mainstream film outfits don’t exactly have the motivation to do better. They’ll just end up spending more if they try for quality when clearly, bashing aside, their crap films earn enough. It might surprise you to know this, but MMFF actually has a script-screening process. So why do the crappy stories still get in? May politika na yan siyempre! There are only so many film outfits in the Philippines. Like with almost any industry in this country, it’s an oligopoly. They’re the big ones. Of course they’re gonna get in no matter what they deliver. What’s important is that we pressure these companies to do well. They’re the ones with the budget and the equipment, how come they’re producing crappy films? Crappier even, compared to indies. No reason to do better? Well, we better give them a reason.
I don’t want to be just another ranter. Yes, yes, yes, we know the multiple sequel films suck. It’s been said over and over by everyone every year. But they don’t stop making that crap. Don’t you ever wonder why? More importantly, do you think there’s a way to get them to do better? It’s not much, but I have a couple of grandiose ideas (thinking is fun when you’re not going to ship the ideas yourself hehehe)
My ambitious suggestions for the next Metro Manila Film Festivals.
Make it an International Film Festival.
It’s simple. Aside from the usual, Metro Manila invites foreign filmmakers to screen their stuff in the Philippines. The films should be little-known films with good reputations. The types that were highly anticipated and acclaimed but couldn’t/didn’t get wide distribution. Like those straight-to-DVD ones. They exist.
Or we could show a couple of films where Filipinos are involved in the production. We always see them on TV, don’t we? So-and-so proudly Pinoy person does a bit part/makeup/costume/ whatever in a Hollywood movie, Pixar movie or something. Get it, then show it to us. Make people realize that if they can do something there but not here, then the problem is not with them, it’s here.
Also, these should be distributed less compared to the other Filipino films. That way they can’t say that the festival loses it’s purpose of showing Filipino-made films.
Give the foreign films their own recognition. Some special award, culture award, relevance or whatever award.
- More diversity. I’m sure filmmakers from other countries would have something to offer other than Enteng, Ina, Mano, Panday, etc. series. If we don’t like what the mainstream outfits are offering, at least we’ll have a choice.
- Competition. Surely, Filipino filmmakers, while not directly competing with foreign films for awards, will have at least some reason to kick some things up a notch. If there’s anything about pinoy pride, ayaw mapahiya ng pinoy. They will definitely step up their game once they realize they would pale in comparison otherwise.
- Boost tourism? Not that malls are any tourist attraction but at least the cinemas are still a bit cheaper compared to first world countries.
I’m not even sure if these ideas are doable. I’m not a filmmaker, events producer or whatever. I’m just a blogger with a lot of feelings. I don’t even know squat about what’s involved in a real international film festival. I’m talking out of my ass here. But at least I took into thinking what I observed and what I know. At least I’m thinking.
Crappy films make me think — of how it things could be done better. If it doesn’t make you think, maybe it’s because you’re the type who would rather complain instead. Maybe you just don’t want to think in the first place.