Since 1998, auteur Lav Diaz has been captivating local and international audiences with films such as “Batang West Side,” “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (Norte, The End of History)” and “Ang Hupa (The Halt).” His artistic excellence is recognized throughout the world, getting nods from Gawad Urian, Singapore International Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Venice International Film Festival. With his groundbreaking achievements, the American Cinematheque deemed Diaz worthy of tribute screenings that will be held at the Aero and Egyptian Theatres in California, United States.
“The End of History: The Cinema of Lav Diaz” will screen “Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” on February 29 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and “Batang West Side” on March 1 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Diaz will hold Q&A sessions on both days. The two screenings comprise the opening weekend of the Lav Diaz Series that will continue monthly for the rest of the year.
Photo from American Cinematheque
“The most celebrated Filipino filmmaker since Lino Brocka, Lav Diaz has carved out a singular place on the international film scene with his epic portraits of the human condition. In terms of running times, Diaz has few peers; pushing the boundaries of what cinema can be, his films average six hours in length, with some at nine hours or more. But it’s his ambition and irrepressible search for poetry and beauty in the bleakest of situations that makes him one of the most important voices in contemporary cinema,” the American Cinematheque noted on its website.
In a Philippine Daily Inquirer report by Ruben V. Nepales, American Cinematheque assistant programmer Chris LeMaire pointed out that Diaz is the first Filipino filmmaker to receive a tribute from the nonprofit film organization. LeMaire added that it would be interesting to compare a recent work of Diaz to an early film of his. “Batang West Side” (2001) won accolades from Gawad Urian, Cinemanila International Film Festival, Independent Film Festival of Brussels, and Singapore International Film Festival where it was recognized as the Best Picture. The murder mystery film which tackled the American Dream, Philippine colonial history, and the regime of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos had cast members such as Yul Servo, Joel Torre, Gloria Diaz, Angel Aquino, and Priscilla Almeda.
“Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” (2013) is considered to be among the “Most Influential Films of the Decade” as part of journalist A.O. Scott's favorites, according to a New York Times article in November 2019. The film regarded as a reimagining of “Crime and Punishment” by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky was presented at the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes International Film Festival. Le Monde journalist Jacques Mandelbaum said it was “one of the most beautiful films seen in Cannes,” director Jonathan Romney wrote on Screen Daily that it was a “superb piece of focused narrative,” and Daniel Kasman of global streaming service MUBI declared that it is “quite possibly the best film there.” It stars Sid Lucero, Angeli Bayani, Archie Alemania, Angelina Kanapi, Soliman Cruz, Mae Paner, and Hazel Orencio.
Meanwhile, another Lav Diaz screening will take place the day after the opening weekend of the American Cinematheque Series for the Filipino filmmaker. “Mga Anak ng Unos: Unang Aklat” (Storm Children: Book One) will be shown on March 2 at The Albert & Dana Broccoli Theatre in University of Southern California (USC). This additional screening is presented by Outside the Box [Office], USC East Asian Studies Center, and American Cinematheque. “Mga Anak ng Unos: Unang Aklat” (2014) is a documentary with direction, cinematography, and editing by Diaz. It is about the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban, Leyte.
Photo from American Cinematheque
Lavrente Indico Diaz, 61, was born in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao. His other award-winning films are “Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino” (Gawad Urian), “Heremias, Book One” (Fribourg International Film Festival Special Jury Prize), “Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Engkanto” (Venice Golden Lion Special Mention and Orizzonti section closing film), “Melancholia” (Venice Orizzonti Grand Prize), “Florentina Hubaldo, CTE” (Best Film in Images Festival, Toronto, Canada and Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea), “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon” (Locarno Golden Leopard), “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” (Berlin Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize), and “Ang Babaeng Humayo” (Venice Golden Lion Prize).
Aside from being a director, cinematographer, and editor, Diaz is also a producer, writer, production designer, composer, actor, and poet. He was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and Harvard University Radcliffe Fellowship, became a member of the FIDMarseille Official Competition Jury and Cine Foundation International Board of Directors, and took on the role of Locarno President of the Jury in 2013. He was honored in 2014 as a Prince Claus Awards Laureate by the Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands for being a visionary in the fields of culture and development.
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