It’s not the first time that Lav Diaz brings an extremely long film to Rotterdam. We have to watch out that we don’t start taking it for granted. That we don’t forget how radical a step it is to make infinitely slow, infinitely long films in black-and-white. Films about sensitive subjects, ones that the sad Republic of the Philippines is full of, as far as he is concerned. Films that are also made primarily in a sad way. Or better: that are themselves just plain sad. That’s why he’s the only filmmaker who has the right to claim the beautiful old word Melancholia as title.
Not every long Lav Diaz film is told in the same way. In Heremias, we followed step-by-step the demise of the protagonists, slowly but surely like the passage of an ox cart. All his films are meditations, and this one is a meditation about love, life and suffering. It is shot in various locations inside and outside Manila. Of his films, this undoubtedly has the most complex story. The three protagonists, Julian (Perry Dizon), Alberta (Angeli Bayani) and Rina (Malaya Cruz), also adopt different identities, despite knowing better, to combat the melancholy.
The good news is that with his wilful and demanding films, Diaz is slowly penetrating to the most important platforms. For instance, at the most recent Venice Festival, he won the Orizzonti Prize for best feature.