Was Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino a success?

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If you ask Film Development Council of Philippines (FDCP) Chairman Liza Diño, it would be a resounding “yes.” In fact, she announced last week that the film festival grossed P149.5 million in its run from Aug. 16 to 22.

And, due to popular demand, the theatrical run of the films 100 Tula Para Kay Stella by Jason Paul Laxamana, Patay na si Hesus by Victor Villanueva, and Bar Boys by Kip Oebanda was extended for a second week as part of the regular play date in several cinemas around the country. The rest of the films are being screened in select movie houses until tomorrow.

Audience Choice Award winner 100 Tula Para Kay Stella was the festival’s top grosser earning P95 million during its first week. That means, by doing simple Math, 11 films collectively earned around P55 million or P5 million each, that is if we are to equally distribute this figure among the remaining films. But, we have the “sleeper hits” Patay na si Hesus (the fest’s Jury Prize winner) and Bar Boys, which according to our source both earned around P10 million each. So, using these figures, can we really call the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino a success? 

Actors (from left) Enzo Pineda, Carlo Aquino, and Rocco Nacino in a scene from Kip Oebanda’s “Bar Boys”

The answer is both a yes and a no. “Yes” for the films that obviously benefitted from this FDCP initiative to let cinema houses screen Tagalog films for a week. And “no,” because obviously only one film got the lion’s share. 

In an interview with Manila Standard, during the film festival’s planning stage and when the 12 entries were still unknown, Diño said that they wanted to ensure each entry’s commercial success. She underscored the importance of the films’ box office success because it will address the economic aspect of local filmmaking as well as contribute to the development of the industry. 

“Our main goal is to give more platforms for films to screen exclusively. We know the competition between foreign films and locally produced ones. So, this festival aims to highlight Filipino films and give them the right amount of exposure they deserve,” Diño expressed.

Bella Padilla and JC Santos in Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino top grosser “100 Tula Para Kay Stella”

The FDCP chairman also added the films they chose for the festival were selected based on their “outstanding audience appeal and their universal theme that will not just appeal to local audience but also to international audience as well.”

“We’re looking for genre films that can be the answer to the imbalance of the kinds of films we see commercially,” Diño said.

FDCP is commendable for this remarkable initiative but it wasn’t successful in finding the films that they planned to showcase. Apart from 100 Tula Para Kay Stella, which is the box office performer (by commercial cinema standard), PPP featured relatively small-budget independent flicks, which are not crowd-pleasing blockbusters.

As announced by Diño during the film fest’s thanksgiving party, PPP will be back next year, possibly with just six to eight feature-length entries. Reason being, most of the malls only have a maximum of four cinemas, and they can only accommodate so much films per day.

The cast of the festival’s “sleeper hit” “Patay Na Si Hesus” led by Jaclyn Jose (center)

At least this aspect of the festival will be addressed. But it isn’t entirely the number of cinemas that they need to focus on, it’s the kind of films they want to project on those screens. For this year’s edition of PPP, they got 700 screens to begin with. Since choosing commercially viable flicks is their main goal, then they should start walking the talk. 

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