Congressman Karlo B. Nograles, who was chair of last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, believes Mindanaoan filmmakers could excel in making movie musicals like “Ang Larawan,” “La La Land,” “Changing Partners” and “Greatest Showman.”
Over dinner a few days ago with select members of entertainment media, he said he was so impressed with “Ang Larawan” that he considers it “a big jump, a big leap” for the industry to have come up with something like it despite the risk that not too many people would take to it.
“I’d like to see something like that in Mindanao,” he said. “Our filmmakers can do it.”
If someone dares to produce it, the movie need not be a copycat since the filmmaker can draw from the richness of Mindanao culture, Nograles pointed out. And these can be showcased in the annual Mindanao Film Festival, which, on its 16th year in 2017, had over 100 films in participation in the first week of December.
He added that Mindanaoans are musically-inclined. They have their own sound and hitmakers so making movie musicals is right on the money. Why, once upon a time, Mindanao even had its own music channel! Lately, some songs from the Visayas and Mindanao have been getting some airplay in Manila.
Since we were already on the subject, we asked the public servant why many Mindanaoan filmmakers opt to tell “heavy” stories, instead of ride on the bandwagon of rom-coms and action-fantasy films.
“That’s because those are the things we are exposed to,” he said. “Yung mga struggles namin with poverty, rebels, yung mga tribal wars—if you’re a filmmaker, you want to tell a story that’s close to your heart so it comes across as authentic. If you make a story that you’re not knowledgeable of or you’re not passionate about, it will come out as fake.”
He encourages Mindanaoan filmmakers to produce more work as he knows the Mindanaoan viewer has a soft spot for anything Mindanao.
“Sentimyento yan ng mga taga-Mindanao na we have so much to offer—kami ang nagpapakain sa bansa—pero bakit laging kami ang huli? Kaya naman kami, ako, we try to offer avenues for Mindanaoans to shine.”
He said that unlike many of their counterparts in Manila, cinema owners allow indie movies or those done by Mindanaoan filmmakers to thrive even if commercial returns aren’t that big.
“It’s obvious naman that the movies are experimental so sinusuportahan namin yan, kahit pa nga ng private sector,” Nograles said.
Though best known as champion of free tertiary education program in state universities and colleges (SUCs), and the one who looked for the P40 billion funding needed to make the dreams of students enrolled in SUCs finish their college education starting in school year 2018-2019, Nograles, off duty, is certified film buff and proud of it.
He knows all the episodes of “Star Wars” and he enjoys watching movies starring Toni Gonzaga, John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo. When he was younger, he remembers liking Joey de Leon and Rene Requiestas movies.
One of his and wife Marga’s most memorable dates was their first during which they watched “The Incredibles.” Their children are Karlos Mateo, Kristian Massimo and Katarina Mikaelle.
From a release, here are some of Nograles’ thoughts on present movie industry and the recent MMFF:
On the present quality of Filipino films vis-à-vis foreign ones
“On technicality, of course, Hollywood still has the edge with their Computer Generated Imagery. But the Filipino film industry has made great strides in polishing some of our graphics, particularly in fantasy films…”
On areas in the Filipino film industry that need improvement
“I think the focus should be on making more quality films rather than pandering to what the market seems to want. We’ve had really great Filipino films but didn’t prove to be commercially successful. So, I think the audience should have more venues to appreciate quality films in such a way that they don’t have to choose between artistic quality or commercial appeal.”
On the need for additional incentives from government to the movie industry
“Maybe in areas of taxation like amusement taxes. There has always been a call to decrease amusement taxes. Big producers can afford the fees but what about indie or regional producers who have limited fund source?
“The government can also give support to the local film industry on the aspects of production, wherein more fund grants can be given to produce quality films, story wise. Sadly, good stories normally do not get funding from big utifts who focus oin the marketability of artistas than the story.
“On the aspect of marketing, there should be a policy to increase screenings of local films in cinemas.”
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