` Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) `

Lav Diaz’s latest film to premiere at the Berlinale

In 2014, Lav Diaz was recognized for having brought the highest honor to Philippine cinema by winning the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. This year, Diaz follows up that achievement by entering his latest film in the main competition of the Berlin International Film Festival. His latest opus, Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, will premiere on February 18 at one of the biggest film festivals in Europe, with award-winning actress Meryl Streep acting as jury president.

Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis was originally written by Diaz two decades ago and is a love letter to the Philippines. The story uses interrelated narratives to tell the tale of Jocelynang Baliwag, which was the most popular hymn during the revolution against Spain. The lyrics, although alluding to a young Filipina, actually symbolize the beautiful country of the Philippines. Fitting, as it is the hope of Diaz and his cast that the film remains of as much importance to Filipinos today.The story involves important characters in Philippine literature, mythical creatures from local folklore, and historical figures from the revolution. This combination has contributed towards deeply affecting the Philippine psyche, which Diaz explores. Diaz argues that while ‘it is perilous to argue about historical details. It is also said that it is more perilous to correct any distortions made on historical events. But that it is most perilous of all to turn ones back to the truth behind these events.’ The film touches on events which have been greatly debated throughout history, such as the death of Andres Bonifacio.

The film weaves a rich tapestry of Philippine history, literature and mythology using the largest ensemble cast in current history. The main actors are John Lloyd Cruz and Piolo Pascual, with supporting roles played by Angel Aquino, Bernardo Bernardo, Cherie Gil, Hazel Orencio, Susan Africa and Alessandra de Rossi. The epic was filmed in Sorsogon, requiring most of its cast to forego Manila-based projects, but was considered well worth the sacrifice by all involved.  Executive Producer Paul Soriano was responsible for this special project, which merged some of the country’s most popular mainstream actors with one of the greatest independent filmmakers of this era.

Hele is poised to be a significant film contributing greatly to national consciousness. The aspiration of Diaz was made known when he shared with the world the following sentiment: “To yearn for freedom is not an illusion. There are only conquerors and the conquered, abusers and the abused. I only hope that this rebellion could mean something for the country.”

The Cinematheque Centre Manila is screening Lav Diaz's Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon for the entire last week of January. Tickets are P200 while membership card holders are entitled to a 50% discount.

Film Development Council of the Philippines