Philippines: Film festival bans filmmakers, revokes award

2 March 2017

The Metro Manila Film Festival Executive Committee decided to ban the director and two producers of film ‘Oro’ for 1 year due to a controversial scene.

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee decided to ban director Alvin Yapan and two producers of film ‘Oro’ for one year due to controversy over a scene where a dog was allegedly killed, reported Philippine news portal Interaksyon on 6 January 2017.

The committee’s decision came after it already revoked the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award from the film on 3 January 2017 due to the controversial scene, reported Philippine daily Inquirer on 4 January 2017.

The committee explained in a statement:

Without making any judgment on the artistic merit of the film or cinematic depictions, the MMFF find the present controversy on the alleged killing of a dog in the course of the filming of the movie effectively casts a doubt on the movie’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe Jr.

Filmmakers “panic”
Liza Dino, chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), called the scene “very disturbing” and “very graphic”, but that the filmmakers told her that a “goat was used and some prosthetics to make it look real”, reported ABS CBN News on 1 January 2017.

However, on 2 January 2017, Dino, in a Facebook post, said that in a meeting with the film’s production team, MMFF Executive Committee and Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the film’s team lied “out of panic” and that “a real dog was killed during the filming of the movie”.

The filmmakers explained that the dog was not harmed “for the purpose of the film”, but that in the area where they were filming it is culturally customary for people to eat dogs as food and that “no one from the production did the actual killing of the dog”.

The filmmakers said that locals killed the dog and that the crew filmed what was happening, reported CNN Philippines on 6 January 2017.

In the Philippines, killing dogs is prohibited by the Animal Welfare Act, but does allow the killing and eating of dogs for religious and ritual purposes by indigenous tribes if they have the required permit.

Animal rights group blow whistle
Controversy over the film began when animal rights groups, including PAWS and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, brought attention to the controversial scene, calling for the film to be pulled from screens and for the scene to be investigated.

PAWS also asked for Yapan’s removal from the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines (DGPI). The DGPI said it would investigate the matter further.

The film has been pulled out of cinemas after Yapan promised to provide an edited version of the film with the dog scene “blackened” out, but failed to do so. Producer Mark Shandil Bacolod clarified that the filmmakers made the decision themselves to not further re-edit the film.


» CNN Philippines – 6 January 2017
Directors’ Guild to investigate ‘Oro’ filmmaker over animal cruelty complaint

» Interaksyon – 6 January 2017
‘Oro’ producers, director banned from joining next year’s MMFF

» Inquirer – 4 January 2017
Dog killing scene takes some luster off ‘Oro’; FPJ award withdrawn

» GMA News Online – 3 January 2017
MMFF recalls FPJ award from ‘Oro’ amid animal cruelty issue

» Facebook – 2 January 2017
Liza Dino Facebook post

» ABS CBN News – 1 January 2017
Dog or goat? ‘Oro’ under investigation over slaughter scene

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