It is as it should be, a smiling fellow scriptwriter nudged me as we left our upper box perch at the the Cultural Center of the Philippines main theater after the 22nd Film Academy of the Philippines awards last Saturday (July 3, 2004).
He was right. My wife Nanie, my date for the occasion, was of the same opinion. The FAP awards turned out to be what it should be. Why’s that? How? The glamor was there. The glitter. The elegance. A showcase to prove the unity of film industry people. And most important, the credibility.
The fellow writer’s good-vibed, described-it-all remarks reminded me of the Pope’s one-line imprimatur comment after viewing Mel Gibson’s obra maestra, The Passion of the Christ: It is as it was.
And it came to pass that the 22nd FAP awards night hammered into place a fitting climax to another award season. Though in reality the next season of awards has begun with the Manila Film Festival awards night on June 28. The six MFF entries, together with all the films already shown or still to be shown in 2004, are eligible for awards in 2005. This roster will be further boosted by the entries to be fielded in the 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival in December.
Unknown to most, this year’s FAP awards is the last one to use the ‘old’ nomination process. For next year, a new citation/nomination system has been set in place and is being implemented since January.
This involves a three-staged selection system. Citers, composed of 10 representatives each from the eight guilds, will view and cite films quarterly in their respective categories. Directors will cite their peers. Scriptwriters will cite theirs. Actors and actresses will take care of the four acting categories. They will also cite the quarters’ outstanding films, together with two non-category guilds.
After the citers, forty nominators (five representatives each from the eight guilds) will go through the list of cited films for the four quarters and rank them accordingly, from the best downwards and come up with a final list of nominees in each category.
The electoral college, composed of 30 members from each guild, will finally vote for the best in the third and last stage of the process.
This system will assure that the FAP can come up with the year’s winners at the earliest possible time.
But we must point out this early that a system can only work if the members involved will be sincere, unbiased and true to their assigned role as citer, nominator or voter.
The members of the FAP guilds must not forget the charges of politicking and buddy-support-buddy mentality levelled against our awards. We cannot ignore or shrug off the snide criticisms that the FAP awards put premium on popularity than performance.
We just cannot sweep such misguided impressions under the rug. Luckily, the results of the last FAP awards vindicated us. We in the guilds have consistently proven that we can really come up with deserving winners. Though we must admit there had been lapses too, meaning the undeserving had their nights in the limelight too.
The truth is that we are always the target of such brickbats because the FAP awards, like the Oscars, is the only forum where peers vote on their peers. This is a distinction that is uniquely and exclusively ours.
Therefore, we are always under suspicion that sometimes (some critics howled oftentimes), we judge the best because of the person and not because of his work. But I would like to believe that this only happens when things are being equal. It is only then that we cast our vote for the nominee who is a friend, who is closer to us than the other nominee. But when it is clear that one nominee’s performance is way ahead or just a shoulder above the others, he will get our vote no matter what… even if he is the actor or the director, the production designer or the editor, etctera,who once berated us or requested us out of his film project.
Again, let’s go back to the last FAP awards. One detail that impressed me most—aside from the musical-dance numbers for all five nominated films—is the intro to the announcement of the list of nominees in each category highlighting the achievements of our local filmakers vis-à-vis film festivals abroad.
This is indeed a wake-up call. For this is the direction our film industry is about to take—breaking through the barriers to achieve international recognition. Some of our film practitioners had done it. We are capable of doing this too. The ‘in thing’ is to look outward to move forward.
The last FAP awards was, in retrospect, came at the most opportune time. We all accept the sad reality that the film industry is in a worrisome situation. The FAP faithful—all the practitioners involved in local filmmaking—had gathered together for one night like an army preparing for the battle ahead. We have shown we can harness ourselves together for one common purpose. But the common purpose this time, it must be emphasized, is the suvival of the film industry.
Jose N. Carreon is one of the pillars in the film industry and served as one of SGP’s top officers. A prolific scriptwriter, Direk Jocar, as he is fondly called by his peers, had directed more than a dozen action, drama and sex movies.