By Francis "Oggs" Cruz
It was Dec. 17, 2004, an hour before midnight. The sun seemed like a distant memory. The black-and-white images on-screen — images of the families of a farmer and a miner struggling through the torturous passage of languorous time — felt more immediate, more real. The nearly 12 hours I spent inside the aging Cine Adarna theater at the University of the Philippines, watching "Ebolusyong ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino" felt like a lifetime. The theater is named after the mythical, elusive Adarna bird, a creature whose songs can cure many illnesses and induce anyone to sleep. As director Lav Diaz painstakingly created a cinematic universe with a heartbreaking resemblance to reality, there were times when the movie had an Adarna-like effect, even lulling me to sleep.
But the movie also cured me of the misconception of what cinema can be. The movie's official 10-hour running time kept growing because Diaz practices the do-it-yourself independent filmmaking style that he preaches. The production of every Diaz film typically lasts up until the moment that it is projected. The director was still finalizing post-production on "Ebolusyon" on the day of the Adarna screening, so he kept traveling via taxicab from Cubao, where he was editing, back to the campus every few hours, delivering another section of the film, then getting in the cab and going back home.
Unsurprisingly, there were many walkouts. But for the hardy few that spent half a day in the darkness of Diaz's vision, this was a life-changing theatrical experience — a 12-hour moment that defined cinema as not only pleasurable but also prolonged and painful; an experience that, despite its aches, you long for, search for, live for and love, not because it gives you pleasure, as most films do, but because it defines you.
From the site Film Salon. Slide Show: The movie experience I can't forget moderated by Matt Zoller Seitz
This is another unofficial site for Lav Diaz, "...the great Filipino poet of cinema." (Cinema du reel, Paris).
- ▼ July (5)