Black Sheep Productions, the independent movie production division of Star Cinema, has already given moviegoers some quality films to watch since it started out in 2018. So far they have captivated audiences with some love story fare, for example romantic drama like “Alone/Together” starring Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. They have also ventured into laugh-out-loud comedy such as “The Panti Sisters” with Christian Bables, Martin del Rosario and Paolo Ballesteros as gay siblings forced to marry women for a chance to inherit big money. They have also exhibited overseas, such as a period film premiering in this year’s Berlin International Film Festival: “Death of Nintendo.”
The Hollywood Reporter has it that Black Sheep Productions is seeing one of its movies this year, “Death of Nintendo,” being exhibited at the 70th Berlin International Film Fest or Berlinale, in Germany starting Thusday, February 20. This Philippine-US collaboration is directed by Raya Martin and produced by Valerie Castillo-Martinez, who is basing the story on her own childhood experiences growing up in the Philippines during the early 1990s before moving to the United States. Martin for his part is pretty honest in describing the plot of “Death of Nintendo” as a Filipinized take on “Stand by Me” (1986), a cult classic coming-of-age film from Columbia Pictures starring Wil Wheaton and directed by Rob Reiner.
Set in Manila during the early nineties before the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, “Death of Nintendo” focuses on the lives of three friends growing into puberty, at a time when they are still hooked on classic Nintendo videogame consoles, but are starting to develop a curiosity for more “mature” topics like sex. That however entails undergoing the Filipino tradition of “tuli” (old-school circumcision) just as the calendar goes into Holy Week and the Easter weekend.
The growing-up struggles of the central boy characters, played by a relatively fresh cast backed by veteran talent such as Agot Isidro and Nikki Valdez, are all based on the youthful recollections of producer Valerie Martinez, who first developed the story as part of her Master of Fine Arts education at Columbia University. She also made mention of how “Death of Nintendo” took similar beats to “Stand by Me,” but replaced the arc about a murder with the overpowering fear of circumcision and its aftermath with regards to what a child feels when he is growing up into young adulthood.
“Death of Nintendo” is being exhibited in Berlinale 2020 as part of the Generation Kplus category. While it is assured screening in the Philippines courtesy of Black Sheep’s parent studio Star Cinema, it has also been picked up for US distribution. Berlinale will run from February 20 to March 1.
Image: Star Cinema