Monthly Archives: June 2012

Precious Polity

J. Pilapil Jacobo

The figure in question is addressed in a diminutive of the feminine. Her name is Señorita Donna: petite madame, little lady, precious fräulein. One cannot misrecognize what delicacy is at stake upon her entry into the frame. There she must go, a pageant queen.

Goddess of fab and fairy of glam, her drag can only be gorgeous. The swagger seems to be schooled in Balanchine, and perhaps honed through the pasarela. Unflappable is the flânerie, defying all manner of traffic in the tropic city. Gaze is fierce one moment, susceptible the next, without losing a sense of cunning in the shift. Surrounded by the smokiness of dry ice and conjured along proportions of a curious syncope, her soubrette must be most enticing to a seductee.

A miniature of what could be magnitude, if not every bit of immensity, this señorita translates the figure of the femme fatale into an idea even more svelte, perhaps into the feminine fatale whose queer maneuvers are premised on a most emphatic political argument through the cinema of Vincent Sandoval, a New York-based Filipino imagineer.

Donna is also Sofia. That should be the wisdom behind the maquillage. The crown, the sash, and the bouquet form the accoutrements of a costume that defers the exposure of her investments in the erotic trade. In Manila, Sofia ministers to the fantasies of bicurious boys and polyamorous men; in Talisay, Donna plays keen strategist of an emergent politics and surrogate mother to a precocious adolescent. One should be wont to read this as a double life, an enlargement of sorts of the feminine’s fatality, but Donna/Sofia reduces distinctions between fragments of her tangible secret. Donna’s savoir-faire is Sofia; they are the same preciosity. That Donna runs the show in the campaign of an aspirant for the town’s mayorship is less a passable evidence of a suspicious tolerance of queerness in the far-flung country than a compelling proof of the power of enchantment that Sofia has accumulated in all those torrid nocturnes in the port city. It is not so much the nonchalance of Donna’s company that is fascinating but the manner of seduction that is internalized by her immediate coterie.

Preciosity begets not just a degree of precariousness but a condition of precarity. To be little is to have less, so to speak.One is unsafe when one holds a thing dearly. In the world of the feminine fatale, what is at stake is the intimate, that scale of affection most prone to danger and its terminus, death. If Talisay offers to the queer subject a consolidation of her political participation in the republican state, its utopian milieu assembles the mood that allows her to deliberate on the opportunities that complicity can provide to assure the perfectibility of her tragedy.

In spinning the desirous into the political, and perhaps a queer science into politics itself, against, of course, the duress of heteronormative discourses, Vincent Sandoval’s Señorita (2011) dares to be compared to Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game (1992). The intimate struggle of the Irish Republican Army within late imperial British history should be an awkward equivalent to the histrionic micropolitics of the contemporary electorate in postcolonial Philippines, but Sofia is pivotal in Sandoval’s text as Dil is indispensable to Jordan’s treatise. Both characters lay bare the devices which make the interstices of power work out and break down, in various guises of efficacy and disrepair. Jaye Davidson’s portrayal of the transgender Dil remains one of the most persuasive acting of queer melancholia, but Vincent Sandoval’s Donna/Sofia can be argued to have even surpassed that forlorn epitome in his valiant equipoise to contravene the torque of tactic and even brandish potency in a moment of powerlessness through the most refined ministrations of a grotesque image that has triumphed as beauty.

Such affect is not exactly the stuff that facilitates the expression of terms of endearment for the feminine fatale yearning to be addressed lovingly by the constituents of an always already failed democratic polity, but the melodramatic method summons the affectations and mannerisms of the foremost dowager of our erstwhile autocracy.

Call the maneuver daring, if not altogether desperate, in a productive sense, but Señorita‘s diminutive discourse does argue a case for a queer promise within national allegory. The mode is often perceived through its amplifying procedure, in its capacity to reference everything else that is excised from the surface and core of narrative, but the more ostensible present of the allegorical, as far as our “queer phenomenology,” pace Sarah Ahmed, is concerned, discloses the total world of violence through the fragile pieces of a fairly honorable villainy and a fairly honorific victimage. Contemporary cinema should find in Vincent Sandoval a cause célèbre. His chamber work has demonstrated the diminution of doom in the flamboyant demeanor of an operatic possibility.

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Posted by on 26 June 2012 in Film Review


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Awarding rites change of venue

The YCC Film Desk will hold awarding rites on June 27, 3pm at the Claro M. Recto Conference Hall, Faculty Center, UP Diliman, Quezon City. The previous proposed venue, Vargas Museum, is currently experiencing electrical problems. See map for reference.

Thank you and see you there!

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Posted by on 25 June 2012 in Uncategorized


Young Critics Circle to hold awarding rites on June 27

The Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle will recognize the best Filipino films of 2011 in an awarding ceremony to be held on June 27, 2012 at the Claro M. Recto Conference Hall, Faculty Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. The program begins at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, with respected sociologist and stage director Dr. Ricardo Abad as guest speaker.

Best Film will be given to Adolfo Alix Jr. for his film Haruo, a poignant tale about a Yakuza member seeking to lead a new life in Manila. The film, released as one of the digital entries in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, was also nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Visual Design, and Best Editing. The award is Alix’s second YCC Best Film recognition after Adela swept all six awards in 2009.

In picking Haruo for top honors, YCC cited the film’s deft portrayal of an exile’s struggle to live an anonymous life as he tries to banish his criminal past. It is noted for its skilful combination of the poetic form haiku, the floral arrangement of ikebana, the number puzzle Sudoku, along with other referents of the protagonist’s distinctly Japanese existence in a cramped rented room in an old district of Manila.

Haruo maps a foreigner’s troubled condition in a suddenly shrunken world, living astride multiple geographies and divergent times. The film investigates forgetting and atonement, crime and punishment, love and loss in an international and multilingual project that melds Asian action genre and austere performance from the cast. One locates Haruo within a global cinematic undertaking.

Only two other films were nominated for Best Film: Bahay Bata, depicting the chaos of the Fabella Hospital and the turmoil that pervades the life of an on-duty nurse, and Señorita, a noir thriller about a transgender woman who leads a double life in a Philippine province.

For the first time in YCC’s 22-year history, six different films won in the six categories that the body hands out annually. Diana Zubiri as nurse Sarah in Bahay Bata is cited for Best Performance. Rody Vera’s screenplay for Niño, a story about the downfall of a once-powerful family, bested other nominees. Best Editing will be awarded to Señorita, while Teoriya bags Best Achievement in Cinematography and Visual Design. Best Achievement in Sound and Aural Orchestration award is given to Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa.

Two other films made it to the shortlist: Bisperas and Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay.
Only short-listed films earn the privilege to be nominated for any of the six categories. YCC does not confer nominations on artistic or technical merit if the film does not qualify in the shortlist.

Established in 1990, YCC is the academe-based critics group with members coming from various disciplines. YCC aspires to interdisciplinarity, rigour and reflexivity in their analyses of film.

The organization departs from many conventions of other award-giving bodies both here and abroad in bestowing cinematic honors. For instance, the award for Best Film of the Year is reserved for the director such that no separate prize for direction is needed. The Best Performance award is most coveted as it is conferred on a screen performer whether male or female, adult or child, individual or as part of an ensemble, in leading or supporting roles. To uphold a more dynamic and encompassing way of looking at films, technical honors refer to fusion of outstanding efforts in fields otherwise deemed apart. In this case, the Best Cinematography and Visual Design recognition covers both camerawork and art direction. Similarly, Best Sound and Aural Orchestration encompasses not just sound engineering per se but musical score as well.

The complete list of winners and nominees for this year’s YCC film awards:

The Film Desk of the Young Critics’ Circle
22nd Annual Circle Citations for Distinguished Achievement in Film for 2011

Best Film of the Year

Winner: Haruo directed by Adolfo Alix Jr. (Forward Entertainment and Annex Inc.; Yoshiyuki Ohira, producer)

Bahay Bata directed by Eduardo Roy Jr. (Cinemalaya Productions; Almond Derla, Demy Derla, Marlo Derla, executive producers; Ferdinand Lapuz, producer)

Señorita directed by Vincent Sandoval (Autodidact Pictures; Vincent Sandoval, Darlene Malimas, producers; Jose Marie Gochangco, executive producer; AbdallahTabbara & Jonathan Lee, associate producers)

Best Screenplay

Winner: Niño (Rody Vera)


Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Alvin Yapan)
Bisperas (Paul Sta. Ana)
Haruo (Jerome Zamora)
Señorita (Vincent Sandoval and Roy Sevilla Ho)
Teoriya (Zurich Chan)

Best Performance by Male or Female, Adult or Child, Individual or Ensemble in Leading or Supporting Role

Winner: Diana Zubiri in Bahay Bata


Art Acuña in Niño
Fides Cuyugan Asensio in Niño
Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino in Niño
The entire cast of Bisperas
Vincent Sandoval in Señorita
Alfred Vargas in Teoriya

Best Achievement in Cinematography and Visual Design

Winner: Teoriya (Dexter dela Peña, cinematographer; Paul Marquez, production designer)


Bahay Bata (Ogi Sugatan, cinematographer; Harry Alcasid, production designer; Armand Samonte, art director; Tessa Aquino, costume)

Bisperas (Roberto Yniquez, director of photography; Rodrigo Ricio, production designer; Tessa Aquino, costume)

Haruo (Albert Banzon, director of photography; Roland Rubenecia, production designer)

Señorita (Ruel Dahis Antipuesto, director of photography; Armi Rae Cacanindin, production designer)

Best Achievement in Sound and Aural Orchestration

Winner: Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (Arnold Reodica, sound designer and engineer; Christine Muyco and Jema Pamintuan, musical scorers)


Bahay Bata (Albert Michael Idioma, sound designer and engineer; Toni Muñoz, musical scorer)
Niño (Albert Michael Idioma, sound designer; Jerrold Tarog, musical scorer)

Best Achievement in Film Editing

Winner: Señorita (Charliebebs Gohetia)


Haruo (Aleks Castañeda)

YCC drew its selection from both regular and non-regular releases comprising the entirety of Philippine cinema output in 2011. Films considered for discussion were those that had three or more screenings before a paying or non-paying audience in any public venue. Thirty-five films were initially long-listed by the group, which was later narrowed down to a shortlist of eight.

Members of the YCC Film Desk include Eloisa May P. Hernandez (chair), Tessa Maria T. Guazon (vice chair), Patrick D. Flores, Eulalio R. Guieb III, J. Pilapil Jacobo, Skilty Labastilla, JPaul Manzanilla, Jema Pamintuan, choy pangilinan, and Jaime Oscar Salazar; on leave: Romulo P. Baquiran Jr., Flaudette May V. Datuin, Noel D. Ferrer, Nonoy L. Lauzon, Eileen C. Legaspi-Ramirez, Gerard R. A. Lico, Jerry C. Respeto, Neil Martial R. Santillan and Galileo S. Zafra.

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Posted by on 16 June 2012 in Philippine Film


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