Mike de Leon says will not submit ‘Citizen Jake’ to MMFF, calls selection process ‘anomalous’

October 31, 2017 - 12:18 PM
Mike de Leon and Atom Araullo in a scene from 'Citizen Jake.'

It’s final. Mike de Leon will not submit “Citizen Jake,” his long-awaited comeback film, to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

De Leon himself made a categorical “message” to this effect on the film’s Facebook page Tuesday.

“I can categorically state that CITIZEN JAKE is not joining, better still, not even considering joining the Metro Manila Film Festival in 2017. Ever since the anomalous selection process that occurred months ago that resulted in 4 films being selected based on scripts, I realized that any reforms well-intentioned filmmakers may clamor for are only doomed to failure,” De Leon wrote.

The reclusive filmmaker also revealed that should he consider otherwise, a “reliable source” told him that “Citizen Jake” would be a shoo-in for one of the remaining four slots for the annual Christmas season film festival.

“It was recently intimated to me from a reliable source that should I wish to join, ‘sigurado na ako’ or words to that effect. Corruption has returned in full force to this festival that purports to make children happy during the holiday season, a euphemism for profit and greed,” De Leon lamented.

“My film may be fiction but it is based on truths we ignore at our own risk. It should be seen by its audience in its original version, without cuts and without compromise. The film is not perfect, far from it, but it is a good, honest film that is seeking an audience that I am convinced is out there.”

De Leon has previously participated in the MMFF on two occasions: in 1977 with “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising” and in 1981 with “Kisapmata” where it won several awards including Best Director.

It was speculated that “Citizen Jake,” De Leon’s first feature film since 2000’s “Bayaning 3rd World,” would be submitted in its finished form and was predicted to be one of the top contenders for the festival’s top awards.

But De Leon, in a display of disdain for the MMFF’s selection criteria, wrote this post in addition to his initial message.

“May this old film director ask what would happen if any of the first four selected entries to the 2017 MMFF turn out to be artistic duds? Oh, yes, there’s another one of those nebulous criteria—commercial viability…,” he further wrote.

“Putting too much emphasis on commerce over art” was cited as the main reason for the resignation of three members of the MMFF Executive Committee namely broadcast journalist Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, academician Rolando Tolentino and screenwriter Ricky Lee last July shortly after the first four official entries were announced.

They are “Ang Panday” topbilled and directed by Coco Martin; “The Revengers Squad” (originally submitted as “The Revengers”) starring Vice Ganda, Pia Wurtzbach and Daniel Padilla and directed by Joyce Bernal; “Meant to Beh” (submitted as “Love Traps #FamilyGoals”) starring Vic Sotto and Dawn Zulueta and directed by Chris Martinez; and “All of You” (submitted as “Almost is Not Enough”) headlined by Jennylyn Mercado and Derek Ramsay directed by Dan Villegas.

As a result of the furor over the selection, director Erik Matti said he would not submit anymore his crime drama “Buy Bust,” which he had entered as script.

Despite his announcement, De Leon is still asking the public to support “Citizen Jake.” The man is considered as one of the greatest living Filipino filmmakers.