The Depressing State of Our Film Industry, But There’s Still Hope to Fix It

(Disclaimer: The author of this article is currently suffering from a manic disorder which allowed him to laugh, cry and get mad at the same time because of the plethora of horrible films being shown at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival)

It’s the Holiday season and the first thing you most Filipinos would do is to see to watch our local films in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival. The MMFF have a diverse history from its very outset, and you may clearly observe a pattern of general decline and spurts of sanity about the films being screened for competition, which is to say honestly that the quality of most films are raging from tolerable to horrible, with few exceptions in this scale although they are as often popular with the film-goers. In the recent years, some films have attempted to rip off Hollywood blockbusters with varying success, but the fact remains clear for all of this time: the Filipino film industry is the representation of the culture of its people who lacks the political, social or cultural consciousness to be aware that most of these films are made just to cash in the already consumerist Holiday season, and by God they are successful, because these films have no competition from foreign ones which would surely knock out our film industry regardless of that foreign films’ quality.

There are several reasons on why the state of our film industry is depressing and the factors are too numerous for me to list them down, but two points are clear: film companies don’t care about the content of the films being presented and the producers are too cautious on producing films which could be either controversial or will not sell out to the market. While, it is understandable that not all foreign films are anyway good, in fact a lot of them are pretty terrible, there is no excuse for the film industry to continue this general trend of decline with almost no future. It is now clear that mainstream film companies are too backward or their executives are too outdated in thinking, or just being pragmatic because the films are targeting a demographic which is composed of ordinary Filipino citizens who are just hungry for entertainment.

While we can argue all day if the film industry, or the media in general should be just entertainment or a tool for fostering the arts and expanding the national consciousness of the people, there is no middle ground in our current industry. The mainstream film industry is largely geared for profit, a trait that they have borrowed from the monopolistic corporations of the 20th century. The foreign film industries, while also being geared for profit are smart enough to provide concessions to promote an agenda with almost no censorship whatsoever, while our MTRCB has a rule that films which could incite political rebellion, questioning of morals, defamation of public officials amongst other “obscenities” means that our options are severely limited to tired references on our contemporary Filipino pop culture.

Thankfully, we have the indie film scene, but that industry is not yet large but we can give them credit that it is on the stage where the concern for creativity and experimentation rather is more important than profit. Two of my favourite films are indie, namely “Ang Nawawala” primarily because of its soundtrack which would captivate you to support our local indie music scene and “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” which is a satirical take on the pretentiousness of some of the indie film producers in this country. These films are a testament that there is a glimmer of hope.  There are numerous indie film festivals, with the likes of “Cinemalaya” and “Pelikultura” which showcases that our film industry is still breathing, although it is on life support as of this moment.

The Metro Manila Film Festival is not that bad, “Kubot” and “Benefecie” are decent films in their own right and I am yet to see “English Only, Please” which is although a typical love story and we have no shortage of those ones, could actually have a promise of delivering a solid plot which will make it stand out. However, I am still quite disappointed that ER Ejercito couldn’t replicate the quality and the appeal of “Asiong Salonga” which in spite being a failure on box office, it have managed to garner an audience which is smarter than your average film-goer, but unfortunately Ejercito abused this fanbase by producing horrible film after another. It would take generations for us to have our own Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Sergei Bordanchuk, Martin Scorsese Quentin Tarantino or Peter Jackson and it would take an entire century for us to produce films similar to  these classics such as “Voyna i mir” (War And Peace), Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Lawrence of Arabia and Lincoln.

However, in spite of these insanity surrounding our film industry there is still hope and I am hoping that one day, a Renaissance would emerge to revitalise the vigour of our film industry. Unfortunately, it will come in a gradual basis and until that time is yet to come, we can still wish that we can fire cruise missile at those film companies, those “actors” with the likes of Kris Aquino, his bastard son, that fat girl who can’t act and that horse whose only job is to be a sex slave to Zorro for eternity. Don’t you worry, I am still wishing for the death of Daniel Padilla, his infestation with our local music industry by covering classic songs terribly and ignorant teenagers naming him as the singer, and he even changed the titles for crying out loud.

I have more fun watching bad 80’s films than to be depressed on the state of our own, because it has become a living joke, a tragedy and a hoax. My God, there is a reason right now to label some of those horrible blockbusters as Dante’s 11th Circle of hell, even though there are only 9 circles, because Dante never bothered to write it down on assumption that these films have been locked away and scattered throughout the chamber that even Satan would not dare to bother at all. Unfortunately, our film producers have dug out these carcasses and made them into hits, “My Little Bossings” even won last years’ best soundtrack. My God Vic Sotto, make an Enteng Kabisote film already, please, please, please let us, let us, let us get what we want. Please Vic, do this for the sake of humanity, for the sake of us and to permanently kill that bastard child named Bimby! PLEASE! Seriously, this is a great moment to create a Monty Python sketch, but unfortunately, all we have everyday is that talking horse and her blockbuster darling slash money making machine which would threaten to kill us all.

(And at this moment, the author has decided to kill himself thus ending the entire article and now typing his last words as a hellspawn)

By the way, enjoy yourselves being tortured by Ronald McDonald when you go to bed, thinking that Vice Ganda is enough to ruin your sleep. Damn it, a thousand word article is not enough to describe this travesty that we have in our vicinity!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-CpNnbXDEc&w=420&h=315]

I think I will end my article with this song:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1U1Ue_5kq8&w=420&h=315]