Monday March 30, 2015

Jay Rosas_film critic

How much damage can a critic do? We’ve seen well enough in the film Ratatouille how the snarky Anton Ego burned Gusteau’s restaurant to the ground with his snarky review.

Film is pretty much like food. A director is like a chef who carefully prepares a well-crafted meal to delight certain palates. But unlike food, film is harder to digest. While most of us don’t need someone else to explain what is in our spaghetti, there are regular Joes who need some smart people who can break down what happened to Interstellar and explain the movie to them like they were 4. And this is where the film critic comes in.

For Jay Rosas, The Edge Davao’s resident film critic, film criticism is a bridge between readers and the film. It is when one understands the film that appreciation takes place.

From Blog to Print
Indeed, Jay is fast making a name for himself in this arena called film criticism. A graduate of Mass Communication from the Ateneo de Davao University, Jay stumbled upon film criticism quite unknowingly. It all started with simple blogging – him, being Doogie Howser to the movies he had just “downloaded”. It was the height of Kickass Torrents and Jay decided to look for these film titles he had encountered back in college. He didn’t even call it film criticism. All he initially wanted to do was simply write about these films. After all, he needed to create unique content for his blog

“That time hindi ko talaga siya inisip na it’s criticism. Para sa akin it’s just writing… it’s blogging. Parang ganun lang, hindi talaga siya seryoso,” he added.

But all that blogging finally paid off. It didn’t take long before a local newspaper took notice of his wordsmith talents and soon found himself writing for print. That’s when he gained the clout to strengthen his brand name as a movie reviewer. Since then he has been dubbed as Davao’s foremost, if not the only, film critic, and has been invited several times to sit in the judging panel of the Mindanao Film Festival.

Jay admits though he is self-taught in the art of film criticism. He attributes his know-how basically to his passion for film viewing. He is simply a cinephile. And it is this voracious consumption of moving pictures that made him understand the rudiments of film as an art. It was like finding the science behind his favorite meal right in his own makeshift laboratory.

Understanding the language of film is key. Jay’s collegiate background and his community was his source of education. And in his years of writing about films, he explains that there is a significant difference between film criticism and film review.

“The film review recommends a film if it’s good or bad. So ang audience niya ay para sa mga hindi pa nakakapanood ng palabas. Pero ang film criticism, ang audience niya ay para doon sa mga nakapanood na. It’s also a way for the audience to gain more understanding and appreciation for the film… baka may na-miss siya na point or superficial lang yung pag tingin niya sa film,” he explained.

Jay asserts that it’s the film critic’s role to let the audience fathom the unrecognizable.

From Writer’s Desk to Judge’s Table
With his rising credibility on film criticism, Jay has become a favorite panelist for the Mindanao Film Festival, the region’s longest running showcase of independent films.

Jay Rosas believes that filmmakers in Davao has a rising potential to excel more if they take into heart the sensibility to make a film that doesn’t only speak about Davao as a place but a culture.

“Dapat when you label it as a Davao film, one needs to ask “what makes it a Davao film? Or what makes it a film made by a Davao film maker?”

Jay is happy that the current inexpensive digital technology has democratized the local cinema. It is now easier to make films. Anyone who has a DSLR camera can now easily piece together a series of textbook cinematic shots and claim it “a film.” But these so-called films may lack the depth of cultural significance.

“Siguro what’s lacking is yung’ culture nga ng film appreciation. Kasi diba gawa tayo nang gawa pero dapat meron tayong understanding,” he added.

Jay mentions Arnel Mardoquio’s films as noteworthy examples of a Davao film. It is not a coincidence that most of Mardoquio’s films are not just critically acclaimed but award-winning as well.

“Yung films nila (Mardoquio et al) doesn’t speak lang about Davao but also Mindanao. They were able to go beyond that label na Davao filmmakers sila. Yung “Paglalakbay Ng Mga Butuin Sa Gabing Madilim”, speaks of the quest for peace in Mindanao,” he elaborated.

Jay affirms that Maroquio’s film is more educational than preachy. And this is the route he thinks that young filmmakers of Mindanao should be taking. He expects to see more films that depict real stories of people living in Mindanao not for propaganda but for enlightenment and entertainment. Festivals like the MFF are great opportunities to exhibit their works and they should not stop making films every year.

He has high hopes for the film industry in Mindanao. As a film critic he understands his responsibility in bridging the gap to make film literacy more accessible to all levels of education. He aims to make his readers understand the depth of the film that they are watching because he knows that the only way for the industry to grow is not in the addition of new filmmakers but in the multiplication of film viewers.


Th writer Angeli Yap is a Communication Arts graduate from the University of the Immaculate Conception. She is one of the founding members of the FinD (Film in Davao) website. Presently, Angeli is a segment producer for GMA Davao’s Una Ka Bai.

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