And now there are four.
Yet another member of the executive committee of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has quit—bringing the total of resignations to four.
Documentarian Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala tendered her resignation on June 12; film critic and academician Rolando Tolentino quit on June 30 and scriptwriter Ricky Lee followed on July 1.
Now, filmmaker Ed Lejano has joined his colleagues, with his resignation on July 7.
Lejano told the Inquirer that “issues regarding the selection process” led to his decision to leave the body. Selection of films is now divided into two stages: via screenplay (announced on June 30) and finished film (to be announced in late October).
He pointed out that “finished film submission is a basic requirement that is fair and viable for all.”
Lejano released a statement Saturday, elaborating on his decision to resign.
He pointed out that he has “nothing against blockbuster movies and totally understands the need to generate maximum revenues during the holiday period.”
He asserted, however, that he had always been against the decision to divide the selection process between screenplay and finished film.
The subsequent implementation of the screenplay-finished film selection rule “did not sit well among the few of us whose votes were outnumbered.”
He reiterated that last year’s MMFF had “set the bar for a viable festival criteria for submission and selection,” adding that it had “provided for consistent and clear guidelines in a level playing field.”
He related that the announcement of the first four entries had raised issues “with potentially chilling effects to the film industry.”
He noted that the first four titles would be given “plenty of lead time for promotions.”
“Come October, when the next batch of finished films is selected, only a month remains for the marketing and promotion of the latter four titles,” he said.
He bewailed the fact that the last four entries, “whether indie or not…will have a built-in disadvantage and their limited box-office performance … a foregone conclusion.”
And, as what happened in previous editions of the MMFF, the theatrical run of underperforming films “will be cut short,” he remarked.
He exclaimed: “Who will be marginalized in this scenario? It is a vicious cycle once again at the expense of indie films and their struggle persists.”
Lejano, who is the executive director of the Quezon City Film Development Commission, stated: “Quezon City is where almost 40 percent of theaters are located. As the head of our film commission, we would like to have a say where our sizable amusement taxes go in the manner that is above board and transparent.”
Lejano told the Inquirer that the MMFF has yet to respond to his resignation.
The Inquirer has reached out to Tim Orbos, overall chair of the execom, and Noel Ferrer, execom member and spokesman, but has yet to receive a comment as of this posting. JPV
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