Repression or paranoia? Filmmakers cry foul over short films’ ‘X’ rating

Filmmakers and activists screened two films banned by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), “A Day in the Life of Gloria” and “Mendiola”, in protest of what they called “repression” by the Arroyo administration.

The “X” rating given by the MTRCB to the two films resulted in their exclusion from a short film festival called “Kontra-Agos”.

The films were shown during a press conference on Friday by filmmakers and activists to express alarm over what they perceive to be an attempt to suppress media coverage of the failed rebellion in Makati led by former Navy officer turned Senator Antonio Trillanes and Army Brigadier General Danny Lim.

Short filmmaker King Catoy said,  “Nananawagan kami sa mga kapwa natin artists, i-defy natin ang admnistrasyong ito, this is martial law (We call on our fellow artists to defy this administration. This is martial law).”

During the press conference, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera joined other artists and activists in having their hands tied, recalling images of ABS-CBN reporters and crew who were handcuffed and detained by police in the aftermath of the Makati incident.

Lumbera said recent events, including the so-called “censorship” of an artist’s collective in Angolo, Rizal, bear out a clear and present danger to artists and to freedom of expression.

“Mayroon litaw na panganib sa atin. Karapatan natin magkaroon ng layang ipakita ang katotohanan (There is an obvious threat against us. It is our right to have the freedom to tell the truth),” said Lumbera.

MTRCB reviewer Mark Castrodes however dismissed the artists’ accusations as baseless conspiracy theories. According to Castrodes, the films were given an X-rating because they put the government in a bad light.

One of the films, “A Day in the Life of Gloria”, is in animated format and shows a cartoon caricature of President Arroyo saying “I am sorry” after which her nose begins to grow. It is a scene that recalls the fairy tale character Pinocchio, whose nose elongates whenever he tells a lie.

Castrodes said that contrary to the artists’ wild claims, there is no “institutionalized political repression” and that the film reviewers simply did their job.

“We are not in cahoots with anyone else here, for us, it was simply a day’s work”, he said, adding that the filmmakers could have appealed the rating and asked for a second review but they chose to no longer do so.


The filmmakers and festival organizers are in the process of appealing the X-rated films. BINGO which also initially got an X-rating for “libelous” reasons according to the MTRCB review panel was appealed last week. It got a PG 13 after the appeal and the filmmaker was not even asked questions. Noriel Jarito had to pay additional fees for this.

If it’s not institutionalized repression, then it’s a serious case of arbitrary review ratings and it’s making the filmmakers pay unnecessary fees.

Kontra-Agos Team

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