House probe on MMFF controversy sought

(The Philippine Star) - December 27, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The House of Representatives will intervene in the controversy over the disqualification of the film Honor Thy Father from being nominated in the best picture category for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez said he would file today an urgent resolution calling for a congressional inquiry into the disqualification of the film by the MMFF organizers led by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The House committee on Metro Manila development, chaired by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, is expected to lead the probe.

“The film’s disqualification leaves a bad taste in the mouth and public is in outrage over this,” Fernandez said in a telephone interview.

 “The MMDA can’t untangle the traffic or rid the streets under its jurisdiction of garbage, and now they’re mismanaging the film festival,” he said.

He said he expects some of the actors in Honor Thy Father to accompany him in filing the resolution.

Castelo said his panel, which has oversight over the MMDA, would start the investigation once the legislative referral process is completed.

“We will treat this as an urgent matter.  The committee is authorized to launch hearings on the issue even during the holiday break,” he said.

Castelo slammed what he said were the “other questionable considerations as basis for film selection that impedes the progress of the Filipino film industry, which runs contrary to the noble intentions of the festival.”

Directed by Erik Matti and co-produced by actor John Lloyd Cruz, Honor Thy Father was not included in the MMFF lineup of official entries released by the MMFF executive committee.

Last Oct. 23, the MMFF executive committee offered to Ronald Stephen Monteverde, producer of the film, the slot that became available after an official festival entry pulled out of the race.

The film was among the official entries when the MMFF opened on Dec. 25. But the following day, Monteverde reportedly received a letter from the MMFF informing him that the executive committee has ruled to disqualify the film from the selection of the Best Picture Category of the MMFF 2015 Awards due to non-disclosure of the film’s showing at CinemaOne.

MMFF rakes in P150 M

This year’s MMFF grossed around P150 million during the opening day, an MMDA official said.

MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos said the figure is higher by P3 million than last year’s opening day gross of P147 million.

He said the top four earners are My Bebe Love, Haunted Mansion, Beauty and the Bestie and All You Need is Pag-ibig.

The MMDA, which organizes the annual film festival, did not specify the box-office figures for each film.

Carlos clarified that Honor thy Father remains an entry to the MMFF and qualified to compete in other categories except for best picture because of the failure of the film’s producer to disclose its participation to the CinemaOne Originals Festival 2015.

The MMDA said entries to the MMFF should not be shown in other film festivals.

Matti posted on Facebook a statement from Monteverde, who belied Carlos’ claim of non-disclosure.

“If you will recall, Honor thy Father was a late addition to the MMFF 2015 lineup,” Monteverde said. “It had been rejected by their selection committee when the lineup was announced in June.”

Monteverde said that on Oct. 23, Honor thy Father was officially offered a slot after an entry pulled out.

“By then we had already accepted CinemaOne’s invitation to screen as opening film. We informed the MMFF secretariat, both by email and by phone, about this,” he said.

Monteverde continued that each MMFF entry was allowed a maximum of two premieres, and that their team considered their CinemaOne screening as one.

“Let me repeat: we complied with all the MMFF’s requirements; we did not commit any non-disclosure of any kind; no MMFF rule was ever violated by Honor Thy Father.

Monteverde questioned “the reasons, the timing and the means employed in enforcing this decision by the MMFF executive committee… We were merely informed of their decision, not given any opportunity to air our side.”

Monteverde said he, Matti, Cruz “and everyone behind Honor thy Father … demand answers. We demand an investigation.”  – Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada


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