House panel to investigate Metro Manila Film Festival

Posted on January 06, 2016

A HOUSE PANEL will hold its investigation next week on the alleged irregularities in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

The House Metro Manila development committee will start the probe on Monday, Jan. 11, its chairman, Quezon City Rep. Winston F. Castelo (2nd district) said in a text message yesterday.

Congress will resume session on Jan. 18, but lawmakers may conduct committee hearings even during the break.

The alleged irregularities include the disqualification of Reality Entertainment Productions’ entry from the Best Picture Category and the reported switching of movie tickets.

Mr. Castelo said the public hearing will mainly focus on two issues: the reported disqualification of the film Honor Thy Father from the selection of the Best Picture category of the MMFF; and the reported switching of movie tickets, with moviegoers on the way to watching the film My Bebe Love instead reportedly being given tickets for another film, Beauty and the Bestie.

Actor and Laguna Rep. Dan S. Fernandez (1st district), who is part of Honor Thy Father’s cast, is the author of the House resolution directing the House committee to probe the film’s disqualification.

According to Mr. Fernandez’ resolution, Ronald Stephen Monteverde, the film’s producer, received a letter from MMFF Chairman Emerson S. Carlos on Dec. 26 informing him that the MMFF Executive Committee had disqualified his film from the Best Picture category.

The decision was made after the producer reportedly failed to disclose that the movie was the opening film for the Cinema One Originals Festival 2015.

Mr. Fernandez said Mr. Monteverde had informed the MMFF Executive Committee through phone and e-mail about the film’s participation and had complied with the committee’s request to submit a sworn statement by Cinema One “attesting to the fact that the screening did not generate revenues and was a By Invitation event only.”

In a separate statement, the committee said Honor Thy Father’s participation in the Cinema One festival was “revealed to the MMFF through their letter dated Nov. 5, 2015, [and this was] received on Nov. 6, 2015, only two days before the showing, not giving the MMFF enough time to deliberate on the matter.” The Cinema One Film Festival was held on Nov. 8.

“After a thorough, lengthy, and careful deliberation, the MMFF decided to impose the lightest sanction of disqualifying [Honor Thy Father] from the selection as festival awardee for only the Best Picture category. MMFF could have imposed stiffer sanctions to the film, such as disqualification from all the awards or total disqualification from the Festival altogether,” the committee said.

In another statement, the committee “strongly denies” the ticket swapping.

“The objective of the MMFF is to promote the local film industry and this baseless issue will only sideline the true intent and purpose of the Festival,” it said. -- K. M. P. Tubadeza