There are comments circulating on how much Pesos the recent MMFF made, which is much less than the previous festivals. Yes, commercial success is important. No sensible person would pour money into a project that wouldn’t make a buck but I am hoping it doesn’t end there.
I consider Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2 a failure as a comedy but as a commentary between artsy and commercial films, I consider it a strong voice. Eugene laments how after soaking in shit for a film, the film won tons of awards…overseas! When it was shown in the Philippines, however, no one came to see it.
That is the MMFF. It is a battle between Direk’s artsy vision versus Eugene’s shallow commercial romp. Will it have another round of Shake, Rattle and Roll, or Enteng Kabisote, or a Vice Ganda-starrer; or will it risk showing more indy or indy-ish films? This is not to say that the former group has no value at all but do you go for entertainment with a moral lesson more than a film that deals with hard issues even if it is not as entertaining?
I for one believe we should go beyond commercial success and rightly promote the latter group. Films in the former group are something that can be shown the whole year round. It will make tons of cash regardless of the season it is shown. What we need to do, however, is to encourage the making of artsy films not just for the sake of making them but to eventually broaden the choices for the viewers.
There lies the true worth of a film festival like Cinemalaya. It helps enrich Philippine culture. The MMFF can be an equally effective vehicle for this in the hope that artsy films too will be available all year round and enjoy considerable commercial success.
If we fail to do that, then we risk ending up like Eugene who, despite getting the film she wanted, still ended up in a world of shit.