Filipinos urged to support MMFF films amid reports of low turnout of moviegoers on opening weekend

December 27, 2021 - 3:02 PM
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This file photo shows MMFF stage. (MMFF/Facebook)

Some filmmakers and other concerned Filipinos called on fellow Filipinos to support the Metro Manila Film Festival amid reports of low turnout of moviegoers.

The annual film festival opened in selected theaters on December 25. The lineup of movies this year are:

  • A Hard Day – starring Dingdong Dantes and John Arcilla
  • Big Night – starring Christian Bables and John Arcilla
  • Huling Ulan sa Tag-Araw – starring Rita Daniela and Ken Chan
  • Huwag Kang Lalabas – starring Kim Chiu, Jameson Blake, Beauty Gonzalez and Aiko Melendez
  • Kun Maupay Man It Panahon – starring Charos Santos-Concio, Daniel Padilla and Rans Rifol
  • Love At First Stream – starring Kaori Oinuma, Jeremiah Lisbo, Daniela Stranner and Anthony Jennings
  • Nelia – starring Winwyn Marquez and Raymond Bagatsing
  • The Exorsis – starring Toni Gonazaga and Alex Gonzaga

The MMFF, in partnership with Meta Philippines (formerly Facebook), also premiered five short films for free on the platform on the same day.

In this online initiative called Facebook Creator Exhibition, local Facebook creators made short films involving stories that occurred during COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines released its own health protocols called the “Sa Sine Safe Ka” ahead of reopening day on November 10.

Protocols include:

  • Wearing face masks
  • No food allowed inside
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Fully vaccinated individuals only

Calls for support

On the opening day of MMFF, which also happened to be Christmas Day, reports said there were fewer moviegoers in some of the largest cinemas in Metro Manila.

According to ABS-CBN reporter MJ Felipe, the strict health protocols, pricey movie tickets and absence of child-friendly titles were among the factors for the dearth in what used to be a previously jam-packed occasion.

In a lengthy post, film producer-manager Noel Ferrer was hopeful in urging Filipinos to support the local movies of the MMFF.

This will help sustain the local film industry and develop the craft of filmmaking in the country.

“Hindi lang ito para sa kabuhayan ng mga tao kundi ang patuloy na paglikha ng sining sa gitna ng pandemya,” Ferrer said

“Ipagpatuloy natin ang suporta at pagmamahal sa pelikulang Pilipino. Sa huli’t huli, sino nga ba ang magtutulungan kundi tayo tayo rin naman, di ba?” he added.

Ferrer also shared that despite the ongoing crisis, the MMFF still managed to push through successfully and generate enough sales from the public.

“Sobrang appreciated ng mga producers ang efforts ng MMFF na buhayin at bigyang sigla ang pelikulang Pilipino,” he said.

Screenwriter Jerry Gracio also took to social media to promote two of the MMFF entries—“Huwag Kang Lalabas” and “Kun Maupay man it Panahon.”

Director Antoinette Jadaone and screenwriter Hyro Aguinaldo, on the other hand, criticized the MMFF organization over the perceived lack of promotions and advisories to the public of this year’s festival.

“Alam na ba ng kalakhan ng masa na pwede nang manood? Bukod sa mga nagpopromong producers, may ambag ba ang mga sinehan, at ang MMFF sa pagpapalaganap ng balitang may MMFF this year?” Aguinaldo said.

“Parang nakasalalay na lang lagi sa producers mag-promote. Walang sapat na tulong at ingay mula MMFF o kung kanino man na bukas na pala mga sinehan. Parang totoo nga: na umaasa na lang every yr kung gayon kay Vice para mapromote ang MMFF. Kung walang Vice movie, kebs sa promotion,” Jadaone added.

On criticisms vs the delay of ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ screening

Some social media users passed the blame of the low turnout of moviegoers on the delay of the release of the latest installment of the “Spider-Man” franchise until Jan. 8, 2022.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” premiere worldwide last December 17, ahead of the festival run.

Actor Bables and other Filipinos, however, countered them and defended the local films online.

“’We can’t expect our film prod to improve if we’ll not support it.’ Louder for the people at the back,” he said.

“How can you compete with Hollywood if you’re shooting for seven days, on a meagre budget, with writers given a week to write the script and a day to revise it? You don’t compete with Spiderman, my dear. You let Hollywood be entangled in Spiderman’s web,” writer Gracio said.

“You guys are so willing to throw local filmmakers and artists under the bus, when they care more about you and your stories than Hollywood ever will,” another Twitter user said.

“People saying the whole movie lineup this year is trash so MMFF will regret for delaying nwh. No bestie, we have ‘Kun maupay man it panahon’ and ‘The big night’. It’s ok to criticize MMFF but not these 2 films. They deserve recognition locally tbh,” an online user added.