May 09
ARE THINGS STARTING TO LOOK BRIGHTER NOW? by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, May 9, 2008

If events during a nine-day period from April 30 to May 8 are reliable indications, things are hopefully pointing to better times for the local film industry.

And the venues where events are transpiring even included committee hearing rooms at the Senate like the Sen. C. M. Recto and Sen. G. Pecson Rooms and a Max Restaurant conference hall at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

The topics discussed and dissected are really imperative if the local film industry must rise from the doldums it has languished in for the past three or four years. These included the possible reduction of amusement taxes through legislative action, the transfer of the management and operation of the Metropolitan Manila Film Festival to the film industry, and the completion of the Philippine film industry road-mapping project.

All these are indeed long-sought and long forthcoming. But balls seem to be rolling simultaneously to achieve such formidable but essential goals. And the good thing is that the local industry leaders seem to be really closing ranks.

Flashback to the senate committee hearing last Tuesday, May 6, at the Sen. Recto Room at the Senate where actor-senators Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, with Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Allan Peter Cayetano, met with film industry representatives to tresh out the possible removal of the Metro Film fest from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

The big guns of the industry were present. Officers of the Film Academy of the Philippines and its guilds, the MOWELFUND, the Film Development Council of the Philippines, the Anti-Film Piracy Council and the producers and theater owners associations were all there.

Formed like a phalanx seated across the panel of three senators where National Artist for Film Eddie Romero, FAP Director General Leo G. Martinez, MOWELFUND Executive Director Boots Anson-Roa and her board directors Manay Ichu Maceda and Edgardo Vinarao, concurrent National Cinema Association of the Philippines and Anti-Film Piracy Council President Ric Camaligan, FDCP Acting Chairman Jackie Atienza and Christine Dayrit of the Cinema Evaluation Board, as well as producers’ and directors’ guilds presidents Wilson Tieng and William Mayo. Rez Cortez and Isagani Sioson of the actors’ and cinematographers’ guilds were also there.

During the spirited exchange of opinions and views, the emerging consensus virtually backed up the contention of the two actor-senators that the Metro Filmfest must be handled by the local film industry. The two bills posited two agencies to assume this role—the MOWELFUND in Sen. Jinggoy’s bill and the FDCP in Sen. Bong’s version.

But this early, another possibility is being floated—for the three original beneficiaries of the filmfest to handle the whole thing. This will mean a teamwork among the MOWELFUND, the Film Academy and the Anti-Film Piracy Council.

The two senate bills trimmed down the MMFF beneficiaries to just three and took away the shares intended for the Presidential Social Fund, the FDCP and the Optical Media Board.

FAP DG Martinez stressed that another stakeholder in the festival has been left out in both bills and he was referring to the national cinema association. The two senators vowed to include the organization in the intended executive committee which will run and manage the filmfest.

Sen. Bong said he will form a technical group to reconcile the conflicting provisions of the two bills and said he will call another committee hearing but added he expects position papers to be submitted as early as possible.

Six days earlier—on April 30 to be precise—another senate committee hearing tackled the various bills on the dock that aim to provide tax respite for the film industry through reduced amusement taxes or exemption from the value added tax.

Senators Jinggoy and Bong filed a bill each with the third coming from Sen. Loren Legarda who also haled from the showbiz-entertainment industry as a television news anchorwoman.

Sen. Jinggoy’s bill provides that no income tax, excise tax, value-added tax and amusement tax shall be imposed on proprietors, lessees, operators of theaters and cinemas showing Filipino films.

Sen. Loren’s bill provides that no amusement tax shall be imposed on locally-produced films classified for General Patronage and Parental Guidance-13 and the exemption from VAT of any importation of raw materials and equipment by film companies or business entities involved in making films and other cinematographic works.

Sen. Bong’s bill reduces the amusement tax to a maximum of ten percent of gross receipts of theaters.

Capping the nine-day period of hectic developments was the announcement of a partnership with Sen. Bong (again!) and Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr., on one hand, and the Fair Trade Alliance and film industry stakeholders, on the other, to fast track the Film Industry Road Mapping Project which has now a one-year time line to complete.

The Fair Trade Alliance has been holding dialogues for more than a year now to determine the current situation prevailing in the local film industry based on the perspectives of those who are directly involved in movie production, like the actors, directors, production managers, scriptwriters and other film workers whipped together by the Film Academy.

In a press conference last Thursday, May 8, Cong. Lorenzo Tañada III, Q.C. Councilor Ariel Inton, Atty. Freddie de Leon of FTA and FAP DG Martinez briefed the media on the new partnership among the Q.C. government, Sen. Bong, the Film Academy and the Fair Trade Alliance.

The partnership underlines two basic facts:

–That the local film industry is a medium in which today’s generation can mold its signature cultural identity which it will pass on to the next generation.

–That there is a need for an integrated national film industry development road map with our national interest and Philippine culture ensconced as the central theme.

With these whirlwinds of developments, it might prove finally that the local film industry is not holding empty bags and can expect brighter things ahead. We have waited for too long…we can wait some more.

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