Raya Martin’s Death of Nintendo, a fresh coming of age film set in post-EDSA; and Lawrence Fajarado’s Kintsugi, a finely controlled feature about a Filipino overseas worker in Japan, both win Best Film in the Young Critics Circle Film Desk’s 31st Annual Circle Citations. The tie is the third in the critics group’s history—and first in twenty years—after Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman tied with Mike De Leon’s Bayaning Third World in 2000, and Joey Romero’s Vampira shared the prize with Joel Lamangan’s Pangako ng Kahapon in 1994.
Death of Nintendo stands out for its stylish integration of genres that situates four friends growing up against seismic shifts in environmental and sociopolitical realms in the early 1990s. The movie premiered during a special screening at the QCinema International Film Festival.
Kintusgi is lauded for its delicate handling of intercultural relations, as embodied in an overseas worker who falls in love with his Japanese employer’s daughter. The film was screened during the online edition of the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
The same two films yield a tie in the Best Performance category as JC Santos is chosen for his eloquent, multilingual portrayal as Dante, the Kapampangan business owner who works in Saga, Japan and begins a tentative relationship with Harue, played by Hiru Nishiuchi; while Kim Chloe Oquendo, Noel Comia Jr., Jigger Sementilla, and John Vincent Servilla also clinch Best Performance for their charismatic and perceptive ensemble of young adults navigating various rites of passage in the seemingly in-between space and time of Parañaque and Rizal in the summer of 1991.
Since YCC’s founding, there have been seven ties in the Best Performance category. The first was when Nora Aunor and Aga Muhlach won for Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M. and Joey Boy Munti respectively in 1991; and last in 2010, when Carla Abellana and Raul Arellano respectively won for Shake, Rattle and Roll 12: Punerarya and Himpapawid.
Death of Nintendo takes the prize for Best Cinematography and Visual Design, for Whammy Alcazaren and Thesa Tang’s production design and Ante Cheng’s camerawork. The film also wins the prize for Best Sound and Aural Orchestration, for Yudhi Arfani and Zeke Khaseli’s score, and for Andrew Milallos and Alec Rubay’s sound design.
Jason Paul Laxamana’s script for He Who Is Without Sin, a film about a young man’s traumatic encounter with an admired news reporter that unfolds in contrasting retold scenes, takes the Best Screenplay prize. He Who is Without Sin also wins the prize for Best Editing, for Mai Calapardo’s seamless work.
The YCC awards three films for Best First Feature: Alyx Arumpac’s Aswang, a lyrical documentary about Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war; Dolly Dulu’s The Boy Foretold by the Stars, a charming romance about two high school boys; and Christian Acuña’s Magikland, a new spin on the Filipino adventure fantasy genre.
Below is the list of winners and nominees:
BEST FIRST FEATURE
Aswang (Alyx Arumpac)
The Boy Foretold by the Stars (Dolly Dulu)
Magikland (Christian Acuña)
BEST SOUND AND AURAL ORCHESTRATION
Winner: Death of Nintendo (score: Yudhi Arfani and Zeke Khaseli; sound design: Andrew Milallos and Alec Rubay)
The Boy Foretold by the Stars (score: Jhaye Cura and Paulo Protacio; sound engineering: Pietro Marco Javier and Jannina Mikaela Minglanilla)
Kintsugi (score: Peter Legaste; sound design: Lamberto Casas, Jr.)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY AND VISUAL DESIGN
Winner: Death of Nintendo (cinematography: Ante Cheng; production design: Whammy Alcazaren and Thesa Tang)
The Boy Foretold by the Stars (cinematography: Marvin Reyes; production design: Lars Magbanua)
Kintsugi (cinematography: Boy Yñiguez; production design: Hai Balbuena and Rolando Inocencio)
Winner: He Who Is Without Sin (Mai Calapardo)
Death of Nintendo (Cyril Aris)
Kintsugi (Lawrence Fajardo)
Winner: He Who Is Without Sin (Jason Paul Laxamana)
Nominee: Kintsugi (Screenplay: Herlyn Alegre; story: Herlyn Alegre, Lawrence Fajardo, Brillante Mendoza)
JC Santos, Kintsugi
Kim Chloe Oquendo, Noel Comia Jr, Jigger Sementilla, and John Vincent Servilla (ensemble), Death of Nintendo
Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson (duo) The Boy Foretold by the Stars
Elijah Canlas, He Who Is Without Sin
Elijah Canlas and Enzo Pineda (duo), He Who Is Without Sin
Phi Palmos, Kintsugi
Death of Nintendo, directed by Raya Martin
Kintsugi directed by Lawrence Fajardo
The virtual awarding ceremony will take place later this year. Reviews for longlisted films, as well as citations for nominated and winning films, will be posted weeks before the ceremony. Further updates will be announced through the YCC Facebook page and Twitter account.
The Young Critics Circle Film Desk, established in 1990, is an academe-based group of interdisciplinary film critics. The members who took part in this year’s deliberations are Aristotle Atienza, John Bengan (Chair), Christian Jil Benitez, Emerald Flaviano, Patrick Flores, Skilty Labastilla, Janus Nolasco, Jema Pamintuan, Tito Quiling Jr., Jaime Oscar Salazar, Cristian Tablazon, and Andrea Anne Trinidad.