By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

STARRY AFTERNOON. Big crowd follows the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival parade in Caloocan City on Dec. 16, 2023. The floats and stars of the 10 participating local movies converged at Navotas Centennial Park and ended the parade at Valenzuela People’s Park. (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – The 49th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has earned around PHP1.069 billion since its opening on Dec. 25, 2023 until Jan. 7, beating the previous record set in 2018.

In a statement on Tuesday, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) acting chair Don Artes said the 2023 edition is now the top earning year for the festival, despite its 10 film entries being shown in 800 cinemas as opposed to 1,200 cinemas in 2018 that earned PHP1.061 billion.

“We received reports that moviegoers watched multiple films while others watched films repeatedly. Hopefully, we can sustain this beyond the festival so that our film producers can offer quality movies all year round. We also encourage filmmakers to create better films for the MMFF’s 50th edition,” Artes said.

The MMFF 2023 was supposed to run only until Jan. 7 but was extended for another week or until Jan. 14.

He attributed the success of the film festival to the quality of the films offered and the wider range of moviegoers targeted by the films.

After the festival, he said MMFF committee will focus on the maiden Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) that will screen 10 films in Los Angeles, California in the United States from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2.

Winston Emano, MIFF consultant and spokesperson, said there will be a series of gatherings and dialogues of Filipino celebrities, filmmakers, and scriptwriters with their American counterparts.

“There will be an exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing. We hope to bridge the gap and connect the Philippine entertainment industry with that of Hollywood and the international stage,” he said.

The MIFF will hold a separate awards night with a different set of judges that may or may not have the same conclusions as the MMFF’s ‘Gabi ng Parangal (awards night)’ in December 2023.

The MMFF committee will also hold a student short film caravan, publish a coffee-table book, and ‘Cine 50,’ where the top 50 MMFF films for the last 49 years will be screened in select theaters for only PHP50.

“We are expecting to feature bigger and better films for our 50th edition as we celebrate the cinema-goers return to theaters and patronize local movies,” Emano said. (PNA)