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SCREENING SKEDS of what's in Iloilo Theaters this Week...
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[all screening skeds are subject to change without prior notice]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lav Diaz and Why Indie Cinema Deserves More

Indie Cinema and the Metaphor of Knowing Real Value
by Reymundo Salao


Those who have some knowledge about Philippine cinema must know who Lav Diaz is. Perhaps one may not have seen one of his movies, but surely one should have heard about him. He's that Filipino filmmaker who makes these long epic movies that have won numerous awards in international film festivals. Just last month, Lav Diaz took home the prestigious Golden Leopard for best film for “From What Is Before” (Mula sa kung ano ang noon). On the other hand of the tale, it's quite sad that even after he and his crew brought the biggest honor the country has received so far in an A-list film festival, there was no hero's welcome or parade to celebrate their victory when they arrived back. [hit the jump to continue]

It's quite disappointing to think that when a beauty queen brings home some minor prize, or some sports team brings home some consolation prize, they are welcomed with spotlights and parades. But when all these great filmmakers bring home all these magnificent awards that international crowds give them high praise for, the Filipino mainstream crowd carelessly ignores them. Just as similar as when Filipino mainstream audiences ignore all these grandiose-quality independent films, and instead focus all their attention on hype-based commercial garbage. Somewhere in this situation of negligence of good cinema may lie a metaphorical similarity with the state of the nation, and the Philippines in general; the way true values and real treasures are ignored in exchange for evils such as money-based politics and stubbornness.

Just as we should see the potential of agriculture in terms of food, products and herbal pharmacy, we choose to focus on an overly aggressive urbanization; just as we should listen to leaders who have the knowledge and the motivation to improve the nation, we instead surrender our loyalties to political party affiliations concerned only with party interests, and those who use money to give temporary satisfactions, or perhaps those leaders who divert serious issues with their trivial artista talents. There is a great lack of understanding and knowing what is truly valuable.

Going back to the original issue of cinema, it is not difficult to imagine why the mainstream does not really bother to roll out the red carpet for artists like Brillante Mendoza or Lav Diaz, but then at the other corner you have icons of mediocrity such as Vice Ganda or Kris Aquino gracing the limelight when talking about local movies. 

Lav Diaz and his crew won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival in Locarno Switzerland. I assume winning the prize was enough joy enough for them that the absence of a red carpet was not even an issue for them. It is actually an issue for us, and for those who ought to have prepared to give them the welcome they deserve. What would you call a parent who neglects his/her child after said child won some major award at school? It’s kind of like that, you see... It’s really not their loss... it’s our loss. Our loss as far as the value of gratitude.

As for Lav Diaz and his films, his 2001 film “Batang West Side” was the first movie that brought him wide-recognition in international cinema. His other films such as “Kagadanan Sa Banwaan Ning Mga Engkanto”, “Melancholia”, and “Florentina Hubaldo”, among many other films, earned him various film awards.

Diaz’s film "Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan" entered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, it was also shown in the Masters section of the Toronto International Film Festival, and was part of the main slate of the 2013 New York Film Festival. "Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan" will be shown here in Iloilo for a one-time screening of the epic film this Monday September 22, 2014 at 6:00 PM, Robinson's Movieworld Iloilo. I hope to see you there.

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