Film exec controls MMFF?
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 13, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - An official of the Metro Manila Film Festival has been apparently calling the shots in the MMFF, from the selection of entries to the disqualification of films in the last festival, the House inquiry into the “Honor Thy Father” controversy uncovered yesterday.

At the resumption of the hearing by the House committee on Metro Manila development, MMFF executive committee member Dominic Du and other concerned officials of the festival were warned that they could be cited in contempt if they mislead the congressional inquiry.

“I’d like to remind all our resource persons that you are all under oath,” Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, chairman of the panel, told the hearing.

The warning was prompted by the apparent inconsistencies in the testimony of Du when he was questioned about his directive to the board of jurors to exclude “Honor Thy Father” from consideration for the Best Picture category.

Conflict of interest

During Monday’s hearing, Du – who has been an executive committee member for eight years – admitted owning Axinite Digicinema Inc., a firm that distributes foreign films, according to other reports.

Du said the firm’s earnings depends on the gross revenue of the films released.

Laguna Rep. Danilo Fernandez said Axinite promoted two of the MMFF entries on its Facebook page, “Walang Forever” and “Buy Now, Die Later.”

The first film won Best Picture while the second won Second Best Picture.

Fernandez also said the two movies were produced by Quantum Films’ Joji Alonso, a lawyer of Du.

Du initially denied the allegations, but Fernandez showed a letter dated 2014 from Alonso’s law firm referring to him as its client.

Jumping the gun

Members of the board of jurors, including its chair, Rowena Capulong, said during yesterday’s hearing that Du told them that “Honor Thy Father” was disqualified as they were on the third day of deliberations on Dec. 21, 2015.

Lawmakers, including Fernandez and Reps. Johnny Revilla and Lito Atienza, said they found it irregular that Du was influencing the decision of the jurors, especially since the executive committee has not yet reached a final decision on whether or not to disqualify the film.

The executive committee decided to disqualify the film on Dec. 25 or on the opening of the festival but informed its producers, who included actor John Lloyd Cruz, the following day.

Also during the hearing, film critic Philbert Dy testified that the selection process for the entries to the festival was at best “strange.”

Dy was part of the selection committee to select eight from 20 films that will be allowed to participate in the MMFF.

“The (selection) process is abused and films are chosen without much deliberation. Deliberation is a strong word for what we did,” Dy told the lawmakers.

He said “a list emerged” of what films should be selected to join the festival. – With Jess Diaz

ACIRC AXINITE DIGICINEMA INC BEST PICTURE BUY NOW DANILO FERNANDEZ DIE LATER DOMINIC DU DURING MONDAY FERNANDEZ FERNANDEZ AND REPS HONOR THY FATHER
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