Sen. Sotto proposes indie film festival separate from MMFF

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Tito Sotto has filed a resolution that calls for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to establish a film for independent films, instead of including them in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

Sotto acknowledged the contribution of independent films in the Philippine movie industry, and pointed to the awards that some of them have garnered in international film festivals.

However, he said in his resolution that "most" of regular MMFF moviegoers "are still looking for the kinds of films screened in the previous MMFFs — movies that give them a good laugh." The Senator did not explain how he arrived at such a conclusion; neither did he mention a source for data.

Sotto said audience turnout has been "low" during this year's festival, where most MMFF entries are independent films.

Related: MMFF releases box-office rankings of entries

He said that the low turnout has prompted "a number of theaters" to drop some films. He did not give an actual number, but added that Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra "confirms this development."

Sotto also said that "Christmas season is for children," and explained that "the absence of the mainstream films in the MMFF entries for 2016 was prejudicial to the regular MMFF moviegoers, particularly the children, who always look forward to these movies to bond, enjoy, be entertained and share a good laugh with their family and friends."

He pointed out that the MMFF promotes the welfare of its workers by allotting "relevant" portions of its proceeds for its beneficiaries, the Mowelfund, Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, Film Academy of the Philippines, the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Optical Media Board — "with the intention of reforming the local film business."

According to him, this mandate "has been somewhat brushed aside and to the detriment of the intended beneficiaries due to the low earnings from this year's entries." The Senator did not explain further.

For him, independent films must be given a "well-deserved spotlight" separate from mainstream films "that can take or divide the attention from them."

In reaction to Sotto's resolution, MMFF Spokesperson Noel Ferrer said that the organization "welcome[s] all efforts and suggestions for the further development of the MMFF and the film industry as a whole."