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Coco Martin reacts to MMFF controversy

MMFF CONTROVERSY. Coco Martin hopes that the issue with the MMFF committee will be fixed for the sake of the showbiz industry. Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) may be garnering controversy months before the actual event, but actor-director Coco Martin doesn’t seem worried.

In an interview on Tuesday, July 4, Coco said that while it’s hard to comment on the ongoing issue among the members of the MMFF executive committee (ExeCom), what’s important is that he and his team make people happy with their festival entry Ang Panday.

Coco spoke to reporters at the movie’s story conference, saying: "Ako naman po, sabi ko nga po lahat ng mga tao may kanya-kanyang opinyon, kanya-kanyang panlasa. Basta kami po – mahirap kasi magsalita – basta kami, ngayon, napili po kami, dapat pagbutihin po namin para mapaligaya po namin ang mga manonood."

(For me, as I said, everyone has their own opinion, their own taste. For us – it’s hard to speak about it – but for us, now that we’ve been chosen, we should do well so that we can make the viewers happy.)

Ang Panday was one of the 4 films that are part of the upcoming MMFF. The other films are The Revengers, starring Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla, and Pia Wurtzbach; Almost Is Not Enough starring Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales, and Love Traps #Family Goals starring Vic Sotto.

A day after the announcement, it came to light that 3 members of the ExeCom – Ricky Lee, Rolando Tolentino, and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala – resigned from the committee. In a joint statement, the 3 clarified that they resigned before the announcement of the 4 films and explained that they left because the ExeCom was putting "too much emphasis on commerce over art." ( READ:Ex-MMFF ExeCom members explain why they left)

At the story conference, the Ang Probinsyano star added: "Sana maayos [yung isyu]. Maayos, kasi ginagawa naman natin ito para sa mga manonood. Alam ko naman maaayos rin ‘yan. Last year, may ganiyan rin. Ang importante, sino ba ang mga taong mapapaligaya natin? Para kanino ba ang ginagawa natin? Para sa industriya ito," he said.

(I hope [the issue] will be fixed because we’re doing this for the moviegoers. And I know this will be fixed too. This happened last year too. What’s important is who are are we making happy? Who are we doing this for? This is for the industry.)

On Monday, July 3, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra released a statement on Facebook, saying that while she is not happy with what’s happening in the committee, she’s choosing to stay because she has a duty to serve. She also said that losing money is very hard for any sector.

"Filmmaking is a business as much as it is an art. The hardest part is to find the balance so we can serve both of its purpose," she said.

"Last year, nagtagumpay ang MMFF dahil nakapagbigay tayo ng line-up ng mga pelikulang kakaiba sa karaniwang panlasa ng mga manonood. Artistically, it was a big achievement for Philippine Cinema.

(Last year, the MMFF was a success because we were able to give a line-up of movies that were different from the usual taste of viewers. Artistically, it was a big achievement for Philippine Cinema.)

"But we have to consider that unfortunately, the numbers didn’t support that. Four hundred million is not enough to sustain a theater industry. In a country where we only have an annual average of 20 percent audience viewership, they need that Christmas revenue in order to recoup their losses. Mahalaga ang audience turnout when we talk about the business side and a one billion [peso] loss is no joke kahit saang sektor. (The audience turnout is important when we talk about the business side and a one billion [peso] loss is no joke in any sector.)

"But MMFF 2017, with its VISION to marry the artistic success of 2016 and commercial successes of the past provided a huge promise of creating a more sustainable model without losing the reforms that were introduced last year."

Coco is set to direct his first MMFF entry, Ang Panday. The movie will star himself and Miss International Philippines 2017 Mariel de Leon. – Rappler.com