MMFF 2020: The red carpet rolls out online

Marymil M. Cabrera
·3 min read

EVERY country has its own set of traditions to follow for the holiday season. In the Philippines, Christmas is a uniquely lengthy one and that is why Filipinos have more traditions than usual. Most families spend Christmas Day at malls to either eat out or watch Filipino movies.

Christmas celebrations this year might be different because of the pandemic but a lot of people are making ways to keep the tradition alive and make everything a little closer to normal, just like the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). For this year’s festival, MMFF shifts to a digital platform to bring the established practice online and into every Filipino home.

The film festival’s organizer, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), partners with upstream.ph and Globe Telecom to go ahead with the two-week-long event that will be held purely online.

Just like other industries and organizations, MMFF has a lot of firsts for its 46th edition: the festival’s first edition to be held online; its first to make its entries available to an audience outside of the Philippines, allowing especially overseas Filipinos to watch; and its first to showcase 10 diverse line-up movies instead of the usual eight entries ranging from family drama, action, horror, fantasy adventure, thriller to romantic comedy through Upstream.

Upstream is the newest video on demand platform created by Filipinos, for Filipinos, beyond the usual options—from movies, to concerts, to live shows, to TV shows, to beyond-the-movie screen content and experiences.

Renowned veteran film producer Dondon Monteverde who is also the genius behind Upstream together with director Erik Matti said during a press conference via Zoom last Dec. 18, that they already started thinking about creating a platform between April and May because during that time, the 1st Metro Manila Summer Film Festival was cancelled.

“There was a lot of content produced, but there was no avenue where we could show these films. We thought the lockdown would last only a week or two, but then we realized that it was going to take longer than we thought. Until now, we’re still on lockdown and the cinemas are still closed and not safe to go to yet, so we created upstream.ph,” said Monteverde.

Aside from showcasing local films, upstream.ph is also created to be producer-friendly, and Filipino content creator-friendly in general—both for mainstream and independent filmmakers.

“We look at this as a collaborative work just to showcase the art of the Filipinos. We have to work together. Since we will be reaching a wider audience like Filipinos abroad, this will also give producers a better chance to recoup their investment,” he said.

To ensure that the platform is ready to be launched, it was even tested by Walt Disney and Universal Studios. Upstream.ph also works with the government with regard to anti-piracy matters.

As for its partnership with Globe Telecom, it will help them to “have a strong infrastructure” and for a “subscribers base” as mentioned by Monteverde and Matti.

Watching this year’s MMFF entries is as easy as 1-2-3, minus the hassle and risk of going to the mall. All you have to do is to go to www.upstream.ph/mmff and scan through the list of entries.

Click or tap “stream now” to buy a ticket, then you will be routed to Gmovies.ph, its partner ticketing site to pay. A ticket in the form of a voucher code will appear on your screen. Then you will be asked to create an account for free. And you can finally stream your chosen movie.

Unlike in cinemas, there’s no schedule to follow, so you can enjoy the movies at your convenient time, in the comfort of your home together with your loved ones with just a single ticket. It will also allow you to pause the movie and finish within two days, and switching of device is also allowed.

The official run of the film festival will be until Jan. 8, 2021.