Concentrated Nonsense (cinema edition)


One “M” is better than two
From December 25 – January 7, cinemas in the Philippines are polluted by an event known as the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF for short). More than just a venue for less than stellar films, the “festival” is a den of corruption, with the rules, regulations, selection criteria, and awarding criteria, changing unannounced every year to suit whosoever is in the organizer’s favor.

An important aspect of the Metro Manila Film Festival is the fact that, for its duration, there is a nationwide blackout on foreign films. Handled properly, an event with a policy such as this could be a source of national pride– no country that I know does something as daring, let alone at this time of the year (though many have policies throughout the year regarding the percentage of local films that must be screened)– but given its current state, it is an extreme form of oppression.

Held at a time when audiences are most inclined and most free to watch films, it was initially conceptualized as a way to support producers in the Philippines for their efforts throughout the year and to gift audiences with a selection of films, regardless of genre, that we could be proud of.

I’ve written about the Metro Manila Film Festival several times in the past (I will post some of those old articles here in the coming days), but words (and a personal boycott) alone are not enough this time. Audiences must be given options.

Mogwai, a small arts cafe and digital cinema space in the Cubao X (formerly the Marikina Shoe Expo) will be utilizing its 2nd floor deco screening room to show a selection of recent Philippine cinema of my choosing, dubbed as the 1st Unofficial Mogwai Film Festival (MFF for short).

Some of the films to screen have been praised and shown around the world (the works of Lav Diaz, Raya Martin, John Torres), others are ones that deserve more attention locally than they have received thus far (Sa North Diversion Road by Dennis Marasigan, In Da Red Korner by Dado Lumibao, When Timawa Meets Delgado by Ray Gibraltar, the short films of Antoinette Jadaone, the first feature of Ato Bautista), and others still have been praised, but rarely considered (i.e. written about) in the manner they deserve (Sherad Anthony Sanchez’s Huling Balyan ng Buhi, the short films of Roxlee, for which there is a dearth of critical literature available). Let this be an occasion not just for viewing cinema, but also for writing, blogging, debating, and arguing about it! That is, if we believe it matters.

Screening are free, donations are welcome, discussions will usually follow. The venue has a modest, comfortable capacity of about 35, so do come early. Hope to see you there.

1st Mogwai Film Festival
Screening schedule

December 28, Friday, 1pm: Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (Lav Diaz)
December 29, Saturday, 1pm: Heremias, Unang Aklat: Ang Alamat ng Prinsesang Bayawak (Lav Diaz)
December 30, Sunday, 1pm: Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Engkanto (Lav Diaz)
January 2, Wednesday, 9pm: Otros Trilogy + Todo Todo Teros (John Torres)
January 3, Thursday, 9pm: Sa North Diversion Road (Dennis Marasigan)
January 4, Friday, 8pm & 9pm: Antoinette Jadaone shorts, Roxlee animated shorts
January 5, Saturday, 7pm & 9pm: In Da Red Korner (Dado Lumibao), When Timawa Meets Delgado (Ray Gibraltar)
January 6, Sunday, 1pm: Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Engkanto (Lav Diaz)
January 7, Monday, 9pm: Sa Aking Pagkakagising Mula sa Kamulatan (Ato Bautista)
January 8, Tuesday, 9pm: Short Works + Huling Balyan ng Buhi (Sherad Anthony Sanchez)
January 9, Wednesday, 9pm & 10pm: Otros Trilogy + Todo Todo Teros (John Torres)
January 10, Thursday, 9pm: In Da Red Korner (Dado Lumibao)
January 11, Friday, 9pm: When Timawa Meets Delgado (Ray Gibraltar)
January 12, Saturday, 7pm & 9pm: Raya Martin Double Bill; Maicling pelicula nañg ysañg indio nacional (O Ang Mahabang Kalungkutan ng Katagalugan), Autohystoria
January 13, Sunday: Discussion day

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I have the same sentiments regarding MMFF. Its really a disaster and they have the gall to impose it nationwide. Okay lang sana kung ang films are deserving but unfortunately, these are chosen based on the script pa lang. And what will they offer again this year? Same old sequels and prequels?

Comment by estan

hi alexis! is there any way i can get a hold of / purchase copies of these in digital form? i’m really interested in watching, supporting and sharing but i only get back to manila every few months.

Comment by pepe (from el-chay)

hi pepe:
– ato bautista’s “sa aking pagkakagising…” is available on dvd from unico, unitel’s dvd label, in stores (along with his follow-up film, produced by unitel, “blackout”). it’s available in places like fully booked and powerbooks.
– “sa north diversion road” is available in vcdc format in stores such as astrovision.
– i believe “in da red korner” is also available in stores.
– one of antoinette jadaone’s short films, “plano” can be viewed on youtube:
– john torres’ short films can be purchased by directly ordering from him. perhaps you can post a comment on his LJ. they usually sell for around 150 pesos.

unfortunately the others aren’t commercially available, though we’re trying to do something about that in the next few months. will post about it when there are more details to tell.

Comment by Alexis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: