Friday, March 02, 2012

Cinemalaya Resignation Letter

Cinemalaya Resignation Letter

Last February 28, 2012, I was greeted with the news that Emerson Reyes' MNL 143 was disqualified from Cinemalaya because of casting, a process in filmmaking which I believe is within the ambit of the creative freedom provided to a filmmaker who is making as an independent artist and not as a hired craftsman. Enraged by the disqualification which was followed by discussions with other filmmakers who are deeply worried of having to compromise for the sake of making their filmmaking dreams coms true, I instantly posted a status message in my Facebook page, reminding Cinemalaya of what I believe are its legal obligations towards its filmmakers and its raison d'etre.

These opinions and the opinions that I have shared in my Facebook page are solely my own, erupting not from my position as a member of the Selection Committee of Cinemalaya but from my conscience and my passion for true independent filmmaking in the Philippines. Because of that, I have decided to tender my resignation as member of the Selection Committee by e-mailing the letter below to Cinemalaya's Competition Chairperson and Festival Director the following day. Simply put, "I simply can no longer be part of a system which I no longer believe in."

Perhaps this is the opportune time for these issues to be discussed in the open. Let not this issue be determined solely by the people who have found themselves directly involved but by everybody. For this reason, I am providing the links to the online articles that would provide readers ample knowledge to join the discourse. Join in. 

Now for the online petition, click here:


Paolo B. said...

Mabuhay ka, Oggs! Tuloy ang laban para sa tunay na kalayaan sa sining!

Oggs Cruz said...

Cinemalaya should either change and be truly independent or out itself as what it truly is, a half-way house for independents to have a career in the mainstream.

Anonymous said...

we've known how cinemalaya operates since the first year it started. it's disgusting, yes. but most filmmakers didn't know what else to do. everyone was just so excited, so inspired by what cinemalaya has become that if someone criticizes it, you're reduced to a bitter filmmaker who spoils everyone's fun. how do you fight the likes of laurice guillen, nestor jardin and robbie tan? thanks to you and ed, unti-unti nang lumalabas ang tunay na kulay ng cinemalaya.

alexis tioseco said it best "I wish Cinemalaya, which, thanks to the media and the government’s press mileage behind it, has a great festive excitement, would actually put their efforts in the service of Philippine cinema, and not their own self-involved attempt to start a micro-industry."

so...what's the next move now? will you be helping emerson get some form of justice?

- sunshine

Raymond Red said...

Oggs, I agree with the principles behind your action. I agree that Emerson should continue to fight for his artistic rights on this matter. I agree that filmmakers should be concerned and get involved. But allow me to say this, that the fact of the matter is, for me, Cinemalaya could not, and never was totally free and independent, even from the onset. That is why I never joined it until now. I entered the directors' showcase simply because I want to reach a wider audience, majority of which unfortunately thinks "cinemalaya" is synonymous to "indie". Or worse, Pinoy indie IS cinemalaya. I joined knowing I am somehow compromising to work within specific parameters. This (at the risk sounding arrogant) in fact is a step down for me. But I felt the need to do it in order for me to reach that growing bewildered audience. Just as I've repeatedly told Ed Cabagnot and people who asked why I never joined before, always remember that true Pinoy independent cinema has been happening way before, and outside of Cinemalaya. In any case, I fully support your pronouncements, but I am acting in the opposite, I will continue my film precisely because I want to make that statement within the system.

Paolo B. said...

@sunshine: Don't forget, too, one of Alexis' wishes:

"I wish people would stop listening to Robbie Tan."

When I first read it, I was a little unclear on what he meant, other than what Seiko Films has produced in the past. With this recent incident at Cinemalaya, I now knew better :P

Oggs Cruz said...

Hi Raymond,

Thanks for your comment. When I read your sequence treatment (and it was apparent that it's yours despite the anonymity), I instantly got excited because this was definitely a step-up for Cinemalaya, since the project is more experimental than what Cinemalaya has produced in the past. I understand that Cinemalaya was never independent, and I have heard of stories how filmmakers would back out because of the pressure to compromise. However, in this instance, it was Cinemalaya disqualifying someone over creativity and vision. The argument that Cinemalaya supplants the creativity of the filmmaker with its own for unmeasurable elements like audience friendliness, etc. and these people claiming they can do that because of experience in the industry, etc. is just too arbitrary and in my opinion, outside the realm of the MOA. I am glad that Emerson did not back out and waited to be disqualified because it finally showed the extent of Cinemalaya's arbitrariness, which for me, is enough for people to get angry with.

The grant and the competition are two different things. The approval of the casting can stop you from receiving the first tranche of the grant but it cannot disqualify you from competing. There is counterfinancing because the grant is not enough to make the film, but that counterfinancing can allow you to finish the film to compete.

Raymond, please help the new breed. The director's showcase is there because you and the new filmmakers are both in the competition and should be facing the same level of monitoring. You have the voice and the experience which the new filmmakers don't and can't pretend to have.

Noel Vera said...

All I can say on this is: more power to you, oggs.

Anonymous said...

i disagree. i think that maybe everyone is being too emotional about it, and the media is swaying a lot of people riding on this factor.

it is a competition, and if you dont abide by the rules and regulations, then they have a right to disqualify anyone.

the reason why its an indie film festival is because the competitors who can join are indie film makers. nothing else. yes we can say that they should have their artistic freedom, but the situation is different, it is a competition in which the contestants agreed to join. if they cannot abide by the bounds in which the competition is set, then they should not join.

if you choose to join the competition, then you abide by the competition laws and rules. if you dont, then you cannot be a part of it. its really that simple.

why would the people running the competition give anyone half a million pesos to do a film in which you do not abide by their competition guidelines or rules....?

if he wants to do it his way, then he should do it outside the competition instead, and stop making a fiasco about disrespecting the rules and standards of the competition he chose to join.

in my opinion, it is only the casting they are requesting to change, and if they will fund the film with half a million pesos and also have given the director leverage and opportunity by being given the chance to enter this competition, then i think it is a small thing to ask, frankly. it was not like they asked him to completely change the content of his script, the story.

and there is some point to what was said about how they want "competence, suitability to the role, and greater audience acceptability." i am not making fun of indie film makers, but they do have a long way to go with quality in their work. i would ALSO say the same with the mainstream industry. the media in general, has a long way to go when it comes to giving its viewers educated, intelligent quality films to watch.

with all due respect, i am also a lover of arts, but it is also important as well to respect the boundaries that have been put up for the competition.

Oggs Cruz said...

So what are the rules? Is there a document stating that it is them who should cast? The disqualification letter states clearly that they don't impose on casting but only as to how to cast? What does that mean? And how do you objectively tell a filmmaker how casting should be done without telling them who to cast?

Anonymous said...

^^ I think the anonymous poster know too little about the issue. I don't think it's even a RULE that they can impose who to cast. I've heard the stories from past filmmakers... How Alfred Vargas became the lead actor in "Teoriya," how the film "Sheika" pulled out from the competition simply because Robbie Tan wanted a more popular star in the film, how Robbie Tan tried to sway Teng Mangansakan from getting "a more interesting cast" for his film "Limbunan." I can go on and on and on with these anecdotes. I heard they even dictate on the editing -- which shot should follow what shot. All of this proves that the organizers are beginning to power-trip and meddle too much. Now if the anonymous poster above find nothing wrong with such issues, I don't know what his concept of wrong is.


Epoy Deyto said...

I love you, Oggs!

Anonymous said...

Ows? Is it a case of Emerson being hardheaded or not? That's the question.

Have you asked most of the filmmakers who joined Cinemalaya? All the committee asked was to show proof that the casting can be pulled off. In case of Jay, they proved it so Baron was given a go signal. And the same with most of other films since the first edition. Emerson DID NOT show proof--this is the point!

And I agree with one poster above. Casting is such a minor creative case. If they've changed the script or the the story, that's the true big deal. Why focus on such a minor thing and get it blown up?

Kung gusto niyo magtake over sa Cinemalaya, patunayan nyo muna sa CinemaOne Originals na hanggang ngayon, nilalangaw pa rin. And content-wise, halos same lang nga quality ang mga films ng dalawa, di ba?

Alam ko kung sino-sino nag-iingay. Itong grupo nina Oggs, Dodo, Adrian, etc. Itong grupo ding ito ang tagachampion nina Lav, Raya, Torres, etc. You can see it in there best list every year. Pag meron mga films ang mga idol nila, siguradong number 1, number 2 sa listahan. Ito yung mga pelikula na na hardcore at pretentious, na sobrang babad. Meron grupo ang mga ito na sobrang aangas. Puntahan mo ang Cinephiles sa facebook at makikita mong nagtutulungan ang mga to. Pag me kalaban si Noel Vera, makikisawsaw si Dodo, at makikisunod yung iba. At tingnan mo si Dodo, ang presko magbigay ng opinion as if sobrang dunong. Grabe. Ampogi nya sobra. I hope, marealize nya na nakakahiya ginagawa niya. Itong grupo na to ang gustong magmonopolya ng 'samahan ng magagaling na filmmakers' kuno. Imagine! Pwe.

Magsitigil kayo. Mga movie nyo, linalangaw. Ano ba ang goodness ng mga pelikulang babad. Ang daling gawin diba. Gusto yatang isali ng grupong ito ang mga pelikula ng mga idolo nila sa Cinemalaya kaya gustong magtakeover. Ang mga hinayupak na to, may hidden interest kung bakit nag-iingay.

Maalibadbaran sana kayo, kakapal ng mukha nyo.

Anonymous said...

^ So what the hell is the point of making up this INDIE alternative cinema when the lot of you think like this? Things done to these filmmakers was just contradictory to the whole idea of setting it up and beyond ridiculousness.

You think these people who hold onto their integrity and their passion for art are the smug ones? Speak for yourself, and the things you said about them actually speak a lot about your filthy mindset. Self-interested and no sense of integrity. If there are those who are wishing to be filmmakers, PLEASE stay away from these sharks such as the likes of the committee led by Robbie Tan, and seek elsewhere to showcase your films.

Long live integrity and the greater art of philippine cinema!

LT said...

I disagree with a couple of the posters here where they said casting was a minor creative issue. If it were, Cinemalaya wouldn't have this controversy in the first place.

I don't condone the language used by one anonymous poster here, but I do get his point about the disqualified filmmaker. Was it a case where the filmmaker is being hardheaded? Was he given a chance to defend his casting choices? Casting is such a key factor to a film's success (whether commercially or artistically) I can understand why Cinemalaya is so protective of this. Cinemalaya in my mind is only protecting the best interest of the Festival. The committee clearly feels that the casting choices were wrong for the material. It is certainly within their purview to withdraw the financial grant to the filmmaker if they strongly feel that the filmmaker is headed in a direction that jeopardizes the quality of the film (assuming of course that the filmmaker was given a fair hearing). This P500,000 grant is after all given to the filmmaker in good faith on the condition that the filmmaker will abide by Cinemalaya's rules and guidelines. These rules and guidelines, in my opinion, are not meant to stifle the artistic freedom of the filmmakers, but to ensure that only the best quality product can be presented in Cinemalaya. To put it in a different perspective, we are talking about a neophyte filmmaker here who hasn't earned the respect of his peers yet. It is a different issue if the committee disqualifies lets say Brilliante Mendoza for his casting choices. There is a reason why Cinemalaya is a success, and it’s because of these rules. Without them, you may be enjoying an equivalent of a Student Thesis Film Festival.

I do hope that the filmmaker continues with his film. This issue shouldn't stop him from being truly independent if he so wishes. I hope he finds alternative financing and wish him the best. Although I understand the actions of Cinemalaya committee to withhold financial support, I do think disqualification is a harsh penalty. I hope that if or when his film is finished, that it gets invited back to the festival (if Cinemalaya is truly supportive of independent filmmaking), even in an out-of-competition capacity. Then let the entire Filipino film community have the final say.

no name said...

" Without them, you may be enjoying an equivalent of a Student Thesis Film Festival. "

Hwaaw. Nakapanood ka na ng tesis ng mga taga-UP ? So wag ka kupal !

Plus, treating the films as PRODUCTS instead of as...well, movies is at the core of the problem...

Anonymous said...

Kung Ako si Emerson. Bow!

Kung ako si Emerson, kesa magpuputak ako, gagawa mona ako ng pangalan para sa aking sarili

sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng magagandang pelikula. Pag nagkapangalan ako, saka na ako

puputak ng puputak.

Kung ako si Emerson, bago ko hamunin ang Cinemalaya, susuriin ko muna kung ano na

napatunayan ko. At saka susuriin ko kung ano na ang track records ng Cinemalaya pagdating sa

pandaigdigan pestibal. Kung wala pa naman ako napatunayan, tatahimik muna ako sabay

magbabalangkas ng aking sariliing track records.

Kung ako si Emerson, imbes na ipagsigawan ko sa buong mundo na magaling ako, patutunayan ko

muna sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng dekalibreng full-length film at di ako aasa sa Cinemalaya.

Ma-pride ako, e bakit ko pa kakailanganin ang Cinemalaya.

Kung ako si Emerson, imbes na mangabog ako ng isang Laurice Guillen na di hamak na may mas

napatunayan na sa kin, mas aatupagin ko munang tapusin ang aking MNL 143 para patunayan sa

Cinemalaya at kay Guillen na may karapatan akong magyabang.

KUng ako si Emerson, di ko muna pipiliting lumaki ang ulo ko sa parangal na nanggaling din

sa Cinemalaya. Isang short film pa lamang yan. Pwedeng di ko pa kayang gumawa ng full-length


Kung ako si Emerson, kung tingin ko ayokong magpadikta sa kung sinuman, di na ako dapat

sumali sa Cinemalaya. Dapat di na ako rin ako tumira sa mundong ito kung saan napupuno ng

mga batas at rules na nakakayamot sundin. Aba, magaling yata ako! I'm above rules!

Kung ako si Emerson, well, di pala ako si Emerson...

Bata, paalala sa yo. Nagsisimula ka palang. Marami ka pang kakaining bigas. Wag ka munang

makipagtaasan ng ihi in the guise of artistic freedom. Si Guillen nga, humabi muna ng

pangalan yan. Kaw, wala ka pa sa kalahati ng nahabi niya, pano mo siya titibagin? Di ba?????