LAV DIAZ: “Don’t be afraid to go hungry.”

Lav Diaz


AV DIAZ is the acknowledged leader of the Filipino indie community, a true revolutionary among cinematic rebels.

Who else but the most dogged and driven of subversives would make 8- and 10hour films in defiance of the practice in conventional cineplexes? Who else could command respect and awe from both international and local critics in spite of (sometimes because of) his films’ length, breadth and depth? Truth be told, Lav cannot, and will not, be ignored. He won the Silver Screen Award in Singapore for “Batang West Side” in 2002 and the Special Jury Prize in Fribourg (Switzerland) for “Heremias” in 2006. Next, he won back-to-back awards in the Orizzonti section of the Venice film fest, the world’s oldest—Special Mention for “Death in the Land of Encantos” in 2007 and Grand Prize for “Melancholia” in 2008. This year, he served as juror in the Orizzonti section. Lav’s 10-hour epic, “Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino,” Urian Best Picture for 2005, was named one of the Top 10 Films of the Decade by the prestigious international film magazine Cinema Scope. (It was on the same illustrious list as Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” Bong Joon-ho’s “Memories of Murder” and David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” among others.) Like a true rebel, he describes the “socalled film industry as a failure, culturally ... its only agenda is ignorantly and obscenely focused on entertainment, vanity, profit.” But “the last decade marked a watershed in the history of Philippine cinema,” he says. “Filmmakers working outside of the system attained a true upheaval.” The digital revolution, he says, “liberated the filmmaker. The very feudal setup of film production is gone.” Beyond the commerce, he says, “the greater praxis must be focused on a cultural revolution to help this nation grow.” He explains that there is a need to “create a culture of greater viewing and understanding of cinema and its role” and this “entails a confluence, a merging of forces, the establishment of a national agenda.” He points out: “Philippine cinema is experiencing a rebirth but there are no venues to show these new films.” He calls for a “national outreach program, the creation of public cinematheques and cultural centers all over the country.” He urges young filmmakers to not lose faith: “Don’t be afraid to go against the prevailing system. Don’t be afraid to go hungry. Don’t be afraid to fight for the truth.” Bayani San Diego Jr.

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