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Dispute erupts in Philippine nat'l film fest

Martha Nikko Comia as Malan

Publication Date : 02-07-2012


Malan, a film that pays tribute to the B’laan tribe of Mindanao (south Philippines), was  pulled out from the ongoing 2012 Sineng Pambansa National Film Festival in Davao City on Saturday “pending settlement of dispute” between its director Benji Garcia and producer Buhilaman Visions Davao.

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) is exerting all efforts to bring together the contending parties in the dispute so that they can amicably settle their differences regarding creative rights and artistic credits arising from the making of the film.

Garcia said he was pleased with the FDCP’s move to pull out the “producer’s cut” of Malan from the festival, which will culminate on July 3.

“I think they made the right decision. This was something they should have done a month ago,” the director told the Inquirer.

Garcia, however, stressed that he has no more intention of sitting down with the producers to discuss the issue. “I already lost my trust in them. They have proven to be liars and thieves. I’ll just discuss with the FDCP my intention of having the film join other festivals here or abroad,” he added.

Producer Malou Tiangco said her group was willing to talk with Garcia to fix the problem.

Members of the B’laan tribe reportedly protested some scenes in the movie, particularly the “torrid” kissing performed by actors Glenn Antaran (Anton) and Martha Nikko Comia (Malan).

Claiming artistic rights to the film, Garcia reportedly refused to have the contested scenes removed. This allegedly prompted the production team to make a “producer’s cut” that was shown during the first day of the five-day festival.

Set in 1967, Malan is the story of Anton, who takes a break from his stressful work in Manila to visit his uncle in Polomolok, South Cotabato. This is where he meets and falls in love with a B’laan girl named Malan, who is already betrothed to be the second wife or dowoya of Sengko, a native B’laan tribesman half her age.

Their romance becomes a huge controversy that has to be resolved by a tribal council. Before Anton can do something about the situation, Malan is whisked off to the faraway Bulul Mala, also a community of B’laan people.

Malan is one of 18 films—full-length features, documentaries and animated shorts— selected from the FDCP-initiated National Film Competition held last year. The finalists were awarded seed money to finish their movies.

At press time, Garcia and Tiangco have reached a compromise agreement, in which both director’s cut and producer’s cut will be screened at the fest.


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