MARY GRACE COSTA WRITES – Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but blatant plagiarism is the sign of an uncreative mind. It’s unfortunate, then, that the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) – supposedly a celebration of creative expression through film – has found itself in the embarrassing situation of having been caught allegedly plagiarizing.

If the MMFF’s logo looks familiar to you, it may be because it’s exactly the same as the Tribeca Film Festival’s logo. Filipino film reviewer Jonell Estillore pointed this out in a Facebook post on September 27. Screenshots of the MMFF logo alongside the Tribeca logo show the glaringly obvious similarities: bold white text against a pale orange background, and a white line striking downward where the i’s should be. Even the registered trademark symbol appears to have been plagiarized.

Estillore’s Facebook post gained a lot of attention, including that of the MMFF’s administration. The film festival’s website switched to maintenance mode on September 28. MMFF spokesperson Gigi Mallillin reached out to Estillore via Facebook Message to give a statement on this “glaring oversight.”

Mallillin says that the logo was merely a preview and was not meant to be seen on the website, which was under beta-testing at the time.

“MMFF has its own graphic brand and no copyright infringement on materials was intended,” Mallillin says in her message.

Still, this statement doesn’t answer the question of why one of their graphic designers created such a design at all.

Some are willing to give the MMFF the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the MMFF hired a private design company to handle their graphic needs and had no part in the plagiarism. Others suggest that the MMFF simply didn’t know that the logo was copying that of another film festival. Given the Tribeca Film Festival’s prestige and popularity, however, this is difficult to believe.

The MMFF is celebrated each year during the Christmas season. Hopefully the film submissions will be more original than the film festival’s graphic designers.