Despite some changes that were implemented to improve the Metro Manila Film Festival, this year’s edition became as controversial as the previous ones.
These changes include a) the box-office results are no longer a factor in choosing the Best Picture and b) Only the top three nominees/contenders will be named in each category.
These new rules did not receive any criticism until the awards night happened last December 26 when “Rosario” lost the Best Picture award to “Ang Tanging Ina Mo, Last Na ‘To” and Albert Martinez and Jennylyn Mercado were snubbed of the Best Director and Best Actress nomination respectively.
The producers of the groundbreaking film expressed their disappointment.
In an e-mail to Yahoo! Southeast Asia, “Rosario” producer JoAnn C. Banaga put the nomination process into question:
“CINEMABUHAY and STUDIO 5 are not happy with the nomination process,” Banaga said. “The big question here is — How could the director of a RATED A movie not even get a nomination? Rosario got highly rated by the Cinema Evaluation Board composed of movie experts…who were the judges of the filmfest? And how could the MMFF change their rulings and just announce the top 3 nominees when in the past years all entries had nominations in each category? When did they change that ruling, overnight lang? We are not saying Ai Ai is not deserving of the award but how can Jennylyn not be nominated at all? Hindi ba siya as deserving as Ai Ai? Disappointing!”
Edwin Lacierda, the chairman of the MMFF Board of Jurors, said he was happy and satisfied with the selection of winners.
“Yes. The members of the board of judges came from different sectors part of them mostly from the film industry. It was chosen based from the appreciation of each member. I think the process was very democratic, so it seems like the public also is in agreement with the choices of the winners,” Lacierda said.
He also added that the results of the awards night were based on the assessment of the board of jurors.
Aside from Lacierda, other members of the board of jurors include Butch Francsico, Ricardo Tropeo, Deedee Sytangco, Robert Arevalo, Emmanuel Borlaza, May Paner, Maria Baby Villegas, Arnold Cabaluna, who is a public school teacher from Mandaluyong City, Justin Binos, a student from Makati City, and Newton Medina, a bus driver from Muntinlupa City.
It will be recalled that in the 2006 MMFF, a similar controversy happened. Enteng Kabisote 3 bested Star Cinema’s Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo for Best Picture. When Malou Santos, producer of Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo accepted the 2nd Best Picture award for their entry, she’s a little disappointed and stated in her speech that she believes KKK is THE best picture.
The MMFF organizers explained that part of the criteria in selecting the Best Picture was the box-office success of the film that’s why Enteng Kabisote 3 won. The Vic Sotto starrer was the top-grossing film on the first week of MMFF that year. However after the awards night and upon completion of the MMFF screening, KKK has outgrossed Enteng Kabisote 3. No changes happened for the Best Picture winner though.