Bigger Metro filmfest set with 2nd LA edition

Good news to movie fans.

Expect a better and bigger Metro Manila film festival in December as organizers celebrate the festival’s 50th anniversary.

The organizers at the same time announced that the annual summer Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will be canceled this year to give way to a bigger, grander and much-awaited 50th anniversary of the MMFF this December.

The MMFF will return to its original roots in the City of Manila, where it all started in 1974 under Mayor Antonio Villegas.

 The organizers also said the awards ceremony or the annual Gabi ng Parangal will be held at the Manila Metropolitan Theater (Met) at the Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, where the maiden awards ceremony also took place.

“Manila is very excited to host the 50th anniversary of the MMFF 2024 edition,” declared Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna during the announcement.

 “Historically, the festival started in Manila. We are 110 percent in support of this year’s festival. Gagawin naming bonggang-bongga talaga,” said the Manila’s first lady mayor.

Mayor Lacuna, in a Leah Salterio report in Philippine Star, said she expects to surpass the success of last year’s MMFF parade held at the CaMaNaVa (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) areas.

“We will also pass by Tondo, where the bulk of our kababayans are,” said Mayor Lacuna. “The areas where there are thousands of residents, will be covered by the Parade of Stars that will be held on a Sunday, so more people can watch.”

This year, United States-based Filipino filmmakers are welcomed to  field in their  entries shot abroad, announced MMFF executive committee led by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Don Artes.

It can be recalled that last year’s festival entries were shown for the first time in Hollywood in what organizers called the Manila International Film Festival.

Unlike last year when 10 film entries were selected and shown, the MMFF will return toonly eight entries this year. “But if there are really good entries, we can expand the choices to 10 again,” chairman Artes said as the Philippine Star reported .

“Last year, we had 800 cinemas for the MMFF,” said Chairman Artes. “This year, we like to cover 900 cinemas.”

Product placements will be welcomed for the entries this year, according to chairman Artes. “In the past years, we didn’t allow product endorsements in the films. This year, we will allow them to help producers since we know the cost of production is huge.

“When box-office returns are not guaranteed. We will allow producers to get sponsors on a limited exposure. We will discuss the mechanics with the producers.”

Working closely with Movie Workers Welfare Fund (Mowelfund), the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the MMDA will feature Sine Singkwenta, where 50 memorable MMFF classic movies will be shown in selected local theaters nationwide for only P50.

There will also be the student short film caravan, where the length of entry should not exceed five minutes. Criteria for the selection of official entries are artistic excellence (70 percent), Filipino cultural sensibility (15 percent) and global appeal (15 percent). The Best Student Short Film will be given the festival award.

The successful Manila International Film Festival held in Los Angeles last January will happen again next year. “We already talked to the organizers,” disclosed chairman Artes. “We told them to work starting in the promotions locally of the entries, so the filmfest will be successful again.”

“That event in Los Angeles brought the Filipinos in the US to the cinemas to watch the entries,” said MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer. “The stars and the producers are all enthusiastic to promote the films. They all had a concerted effort to promote.”

The MMFF calendar was announced by Boots Anson-Roa, who is part of the Executive Committee and chairman of the Mowelfund, the annual beneficiary of the MMFF since 1974. She also announced this year’s guidelines.

The deadline for submission of the Letter of Intent is not later than 5 p.m. of May 15 (Wednesday). For the scripts, submission of the soft copy with 10 hard copies is on June 14 (Friday).

The announcement of the first four official script entries is July 1 (Monday). Submission of finished film based on script submitted is not later than 5 p.m. of Sept. 30 (Monday).

For the finished film, deadline for submission of finished film entries and other required documents, including official trailer, clippings and behind the scenes will be Sept. 30 (Monday).

Announcement of the next four official finished film entries is on Oct. 15 (Tuesday).

The annual Parade of Stars will be advanced to Dec. 15 (Sunday) and will be held in the City of Manila. The areas to be likely covered are Tondo, Leveriza, Quirino and Sampaloc, although the official route will be drawn out come December

Theatrical release of the official entries will be from Dec. 25 (Wednesday) this year to Jan. 7, 2025 (Tuesday). The Gabi ng Parangal will be held Dec. 27 at the Metropolitan Theater in Manila.

Anson-Roa thanked former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada for his initiative in creating the Mowelfund, which will also mark its 50th year this 2024.

Riding on the success of MMFF 2023 that surpassed the target and doubled the income, MMFF 2024 aims to create better films and yield bigger box office results. While MMFF 2023 registered P1.2 billion, chairman Don Artes said he wants to exceed that amount for this year.

“We need to create noise for the entries, so the 2024 MMFF will be successful, too,” Artes said in the Philippine Star report. “If we can’t surpass last year, at least we can match the earnings this year.”