The hashtag #DemandForHonorThyFather trended on Twitter after the news broke out that Erik Matti’s highly acclaimed film “Honor Thy Father” was disqualified in Best Picture category before the night of Gabi ng Parangal of the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival.
On the said letter uploaded by the film’s director in his twitter account, it stated that “Please be advised that due to your non-disclosure of your participation in the Cinema One Originals Festival 2015 as the opening film and after careful and thorough deliberation, the Metro Manila Film Festival Executive Committee has disqualified your entry,Honor Thy Father, from the selection of the Best Picture Category of the MMFF 2015 Awards.”
The letter explained that the film Honor Thy Father was disqualified because the Honor Thy Father team did not tell the MMFF Committee the movie was the opening film at the Cinema One Originals Festival last November.
Matti did not give a statement on the issue, but his post was accompanied by two other letters which is proof that their camp had informed the MMFF committee previously about their participation in the November festival.
One letter was from Monteverde’s production company Reality Entertainment and it was addressed to the MMFF executive committee. The letter, dated November 5, informed the committee that Honor Thy Father was the opening film in the Cinema One Film Festival 2015, but that the screening had no ticket sales and was strictly an invitation-only event.
Little did I know then that this same narrative would find its way to the movie’s own history.
Today I received a letter from the Metro Manila Film Festival informing me that their Executive Committee had disqualified our movie from the Best Picture Category of the 2015 MMFF Awards. The reason for this, the letter said, was our “non-disclosure” of our participation in the CinemaOne Originals Film Festival as the Opening Film.
Let me refute this allegation of non-disclosure. If you will recall, Honor Thy Father was a late addition to the MMFF 2015 lineup. It had been rejected by their selection committee when the lineup was announced in June. On October 23 our film was officially offered a slot after an entry pulled out. By then we had already accepted CinemaOne’s invitation to screen as Opening Film. We informed the MMFF Secretariat, both by email and by phone, about this. We complied with their request for a letter from CinemaOne head Ronald Arguelles attesting that the screening was non-revenue generating and by invitation only. We have all of this on record.
Secondly, each MMFF entry is allowed a maximum of two premieres. Our CinemaOne screening would be our premiere.
Let me repeat: we complied with all the MMFF’s requirements; we did not commit any non-disclosure of any kind; no MMFF rule was ever violated by Honor Thy Father.
I am questioning the reasons, the timing, and the means employed in enforcing this decision by the MMFF Executive Committee. Where is due process in all of this? We were merely informed of their decision, not given any opportunity to air our side. They sent the letter today. The awarding ceremony is tomorrow. Are they merely being good scouts and sticklers for the rules, even when no rule was broken? Or is there some other reason? Why disqualify the movie only from the Best Picture category and not all categories? Whose interests are being protected by this last-minute decision?
Together with my director Erik Matti, co-executive producer and actor John Lloyd Cruz, and everyone behind Honor Thy Father, I demand answers. We demand an investigation. But if no one would care or bother to investigate, then we simply wish that the moviegoers, the Filipino people would start to question and be more critical of what, year in and year out, is passed off to them as good and true.
They can have their Best Picture and all the other awards. We just want to keep making movies that people will care about, MMFF or no MMFF.
Today is a sad day for the industry I was born into and love dearly. But it doesn’t have to stay this way.
Let’s do something about it. Let’s end the silence.
Reality Entertainment Inc.