Established in 1990, the Young Critics Circle is composed of members of Philippine academe who, through the years, have become attentive observers of Philippine cinema. Coming from various disciplines, we bring into the analysis of film an interdisciplinary approach.
In 1990, a group of young reviewers and critics decided to form a body that aimed to evaluate works of art in various disciplines (film, theater, music, literature, visual arts and broadcast arts). Founding members include Mike Feria, Joy Barrios, Jojo Buenconsejo, Eric Caruncho, Melissa Contreras, Jaime Daroy, Joel David, Gin de Mesa, Patrick Flores, Francine Medina, Charlson Ong, Mozart Pastrano, Danilo Reyes, and Antonio Tinio. Each member specialized on one or more disciplines or “desks”. At present, only the Film Desk is existing.
The Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle (YCC) first gave its annual citations in film achievement in 1991, a year after the YCC was organized. In their Declaration of Principles, the members expressed the belief that cultural texts always call for active readings, “interactions” in fact among different readers who have the “unique capacities to discern, to interpret, and to reflect… evolving a dynamic discourse in which the text provokes the most imaginative ideas of our time.”
The Film Desk has committed itself to the discussion of film in the various arenas of academe and media, with the hope of fostering an alternative and emergent articulation of film critical practice, even within the severely debilitating culture of “awards.”
Sa pelikulang The Highest Peak (2020) ni Arbi Barbarona, pinagtagpo ang naratibo at mithiin ng dalawang pangunahing tauhan nito: ang batang Lumad na si Podong (Henyo Ehem), na naghangad maging bahagi ng pangkat ng mga porter ng bundok Apo ng Davao, at ang taga-lunsod na si David (Dax Alejandro), na nagnais tuparin ang pangako sa nasirang pamilya nito na abutin ang pinakaitaas ng bundok Apo. Ang nabuong tambalan nina Podong at David bunsod ng pangangailangan at ambisyon ng bawat isa ang naglatag ng sentral na diskurso at sinematikong estetika ng pelikula.
A Thousand Cuts (2020), directed by Ramona S. Diaz, depicts the harrowing ordeals that representatives of the news organization Rappler are forced to work through or around as they are targeted by the administration of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte with rumors, innuendoes, threats, and lawsuits. It focuses, in particular, on the tribulations of Maria Ressa, Rappler’s executive editor and chief executive officer. Although the 2019 midterm elections serve as its immediate context, the film endeavors to situate these in relation to the Duterte government’s bloody war on illegal drugs, which has taken the lives of thousands of people via extra-judicial killings, as well as its social-media networks of propaganda and disinformation, which have factored into the erosion of a sense of consensual reality that makes possible discussion, negotiation, and action as a community and as a polity.
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.
Bilang paghahanda sa napipintong anunsiyo ng taunang pagkilala sa kahusayan sa pelikula, matutunghayan sa ikalawang episode ng Young Critics Circle Podcast ang talakayan sa mga pelikulang nominado sa sinematograpiya at disenyong biswal, editing, at tunog sa pelikulang taon ng 2020. Titimbangin nina Aristotle Atienza, Emerald Manlapaz, Tito Quiling Jr., at Skilty Labastilla ang kalidad ng gamit at sangkap ng mga elementong pansine sa mga pelikulang He Who is Without Sin ni Jason Paul Laxamana, Death of Nintendo ni Raya Martin, The Boy Foretold by the Stars ni Dolly Dulu, at Kintsugi ni Lawrence Fajardo.
The Young Critics Circle Film Desk holds the 30th Annual Circle Citations for Distinguished Achievement in Film for 2019.
10 films vied for citations in each of the seven categories: Best First Feature, Best Sound and Aural Orchestration, Best Cinematography and Visual Design, Best Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Performance, and Best Film. See the full list of winners and nominees here.
Traditionally held at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum, University of the Philippines-Diliman, the event takes place online for the first time. Dr. Jozon A. Lorenza, a faculty at the Department of Communication, Ateneo de Manila University, delivers the keynote lecture, offering an anthropological critique of Filipino film narratives of the digital.
The Young Critics Circle Film Desk invites everyone to its 30th Annual Circle Citations for Distinguished Achievement in Film for 2019.
The ceremony, which is traditionally held at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum, University of the Philippines-Diliman, will be streamed on the Young Critics Circle Facebook page on 30 April 2021 (Friday), 6:00 PM.
Dr. Jozon Lorenzana, assistant professor from the Dept of Communication at the Ateneo de Manila University, is the keynote speaker. Dr. Lorenzana earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology from the University of Western Australia.
Kintsugi, Lawrence Fajardo’s drama about a Kapampangan ceramicist working in Japan that screened in the online edition of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino; and Raya Martin’s Death of Nintendo, an ode to youth in the summer before the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption, which premiered at the QCinema International Film Festival, lead the nominations of the Young Critics Circle Film Desk, including Best Performance and Best Film.
Only Kintsugi and Death of Nintendo received Best Film nominations. Four other films – Alyx Ayn Arumpac’s documentary Aswang, Dolly Dulu’s comedy The Boy Foretold by the Stars, Christian Acuña’s fantasy Magikland, and Jason Paul Laxamana’s drama He Who Is Without Sin – garnered nominations across the seven categories in the annual critic group’s citations for distinguished achievement in film.
Nominated for Best Performance (given to either lead or supporting role; or to an individual, duo, or ensemble) are Elijah Canlas (He Who Is Without Sin); Enzo Pineda and Canlas (duo performance for He Who Is Without Sin); Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson (duo performance for The Boy Foretold by the Stars); JC Santos for Kintsugi; Phi Palmos for Kinstugi; and Kim Chloe Oquendo, Noel Comia Jr., Jigger Sementilla, and John Vincent Servilla (ensemble for Death of Nintendo).
YCC considered 52 films released for screening in 2020, many of which were distributed online after the COVID-19 lockdown in March forced the closure of movie houses and modified the production and programming of film festivals. After rounds of virtual deliberations, the critics group selected 10 films for a longlist, which was later trimmed into a shortlist of 4 films. YCC follows a rule of only nominating shortlisted films, with the exception of the Best First Feature category.
Sa online edition ng Metro Manila Film Festival noong nakaraang Disyembre, parehong naging matagumpay ang mga pelikulang Fan Girl ni Antoinette Jadaone at The Boy Foretold by the Stars ni Dolly Dulu. Bukod sa nakamit na parangal ng mga ito, pinag-usapan din ang mga nasabing pelikula sa social media sa magkaugnay na dahilan—ang Fan Girl, sa tangka nitong pagpapaksa sa paghanga, hinahangaan, at tagahanga; at ang The Boy Foretold, sa pagsunod naman nito sa genre na itinataguyod ng lumalawak pang fandom ng boys’ love. Sa unang episode ng Young Critics Circle Podcast, pag-uusapan nina John Bengan, Christian Benitez, Andrea Anne Trinidad, at Jaime Oscar Salazar ang dalawang pelikula at ang diskurso ng paghanga’t fandom.
Hayagang iginigiit ng pelikulang Fan Girl (Antoinette Jadaone, 2020) na isinasagawa nito ang pagsisiwalat ng kasalukuyang realidad ng bansa partikular na ang kalagayan ng mga kababaihan sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte. Sinusundan ng pelikula ang kuwento ng pagbuntot ni Jane (Charlie Dizon), isang fangirl, sa idolo nitong si Paulo Avelino. Sa pagsasara ng umiiral na distansiya sa pagitan ng tagahanga at iniidolo, unti-unting isisiwalat kay Jane ang lihim na katauhan ng hinahangaang aktor na siyang tutunaw sa marubdob nitong pagkiling at atraksiyon.
Sa pagsasakarakter ng isang tagahangang nasa rurok ng obsesyon, ginagawang madulas na lunsaran ng pelikula ang fangirling upang kilalanin, paringgan, at sa isang banda pangaralan pa nga ang lupon ng bulag na mga panatikong nagpapaandar (at pinaandar) ng kasalukuyang administrasyon. Bagaman kung nakararating ang ganoong pasaring sa madlang pilit nitong tinutukoy, o nananatili lang ba ulit sa isang espasyong matagal nang dumidiskurso sa gayong realidad ay iba pang usapin.
At the heart of existent populism is its plain irreverence to the body, especially of those who are excluded from what is commonly projected as “ordinary.” As such, surveillance has then become the predominant grammar of our times (nothing new, really, but definitely magnified today because enabled by facist structures in place): to be a brown trans woman in the “great American” landscape, to be a grimy young man in tattered clothes in streets of Manila—these often mean being seen right away, the body being subjected to forms of violent scrutiny. Vision has always been a question of power, and yet frequently left uninterrogated: in the contemporary Philippine cinema, to represent the ordinarily excluded often means simply turning the lens toward them, subjecting them to the same gaze. Attempts to render the “real” (another term generally overlooked) recurrently ends up idealized: a woman who finally confronts her perpetrator regresses to romanticized docility, throwing away the gun; the suffering of a child amid the war-torn Mindanao is skirted around and through melodrama.
If contemporary Philippine cinema is to insist itself as relevant these days, for us, the Filipino audience, in the middle of the current regime, such similar gesture of “representation” does not certainly suffice. Perhaps all the more crucial now is an attempt to articulate what often cannot-be, which is to say, to render visually what cannot appear, because always elusive to our current surveilled vocabularies.