Jaime Oscar M. Salazar
The process that leads to our Annual Citations is an arduous one, even setting aside the attendant logistical and administrative requirements of mounting the event. For the year ended 2014, we considered over 120 titles to form a long list of 7. Following a discussion of the artistic and technical merits and demerits of each film, a shortlist of five was produced; it is only from the shortlist, per long-established practice, that films can be nominated for any of our six award categories.
Amid these challenges, and cognizant as we are that the culture of awards is a severely debilitating one—perhaps especially in these parts—why then do we, the members of the Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle (YCC), carry on this annual exercise of conferring recognition upon what we believe to be distinguished achievements in Philippine film?
In keeping with the commitment of the body to bring into the analysis of film an approach that is not only interdisciplinary but also “young”, which is to say inflected with “the daring of the new and the courage to be different”, we arrived at and became members of YCC by way of different paths, but what we share together is a fervent investment in the possibilities of cinema, in its constitution of an expansive and fluxive horizon of social discourse, with and against which to negotiate human experience. Through our rites and writings, what we seek to cultivate and encourage, including among ourselves, is critical practice that diligently engages with, responds to, and invigorates film.
The deliberations that led to this year’s Citations proved historic: for the first time in its quarter-century of existence, the YCC named no nominee or winner for its Best Screenplay and Best Film categories. The outcome of procedures that we had agreed to follow, we stand firm by it—we would not at all prefer to resort prize-giving for its own sake, charges of obscurantism or obtuseness notwithstanding. Indicative of a house sharply divided, the result was, of course, surprising; upon reflection, however, it was also a heartening one, in that discourse can only be sustained by difference and debate. It is a moment certain to be revisited and pursued to the farthest possible end during future discussions, giving us fresh impetus to evaluate the critical tools at our disposal and how we wield them.
We take heed, in this regard, of the novelist Joyce Carol Oates, who was once given occasion to declare, “There can be no criticism for all time, nor even much time. Criticism is itself an art form, and like all art forms it must evolve, or atrophy and die.”