A Filipino filmmaker, an Oscar winner and a Cannes honoree picked the movies for the “biggest cultural event in the Arab world.”
Indie director Khavn de la Cruz will premiere his new film “Aklat ng Bagyo at Dilim (The Book of Storms and Darkness)” at the 11th Sharjah Biennial, set in the United Arab Emirates city from March 13 to 17.
“Aklat” will be part of a Filipino program that includes other newly commissioned works by filmmakers and visual/sound artists: Lav Diaz’s “The Ghost of a Thousand Years,” Mes de Guzman’s “The Missing,” Roxlee’s “Ian in Love,” Emerson Reyes’ “Farewell to the Past and the Dead Skin It Lived With,” Ivy Universe Baldoza’s “Sonambulista,” Dan Gil’s “Aparador,” Jon Lazam’s “Pantomime for Figures Shrouded by Waves” and Kaloy Olavides’ “Rise to the End.”
Also on the list are finished works: Martha Marietta Atienza’s “Anito,” Kiri Dalena’s “Tungkung Langit,” Yason Banal’s “Symphony Du Mal,” Poklong Anading’s “Phantom Limb,” Raya Martin’s “Ars Colonia,” and John Torres’ “We Don’t Care for Democracy.”
De la Cruz said his film, inspired by the magic realism of Italian fictionist Anna Maria Ortese, is populated by creatures of Philippine myths—duwende, kapre, manananggal, tiyanak.
“I wanted to create a meta-fable, an otherworldly questioning eye… make the silly sensible and the mad logical,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
De la Cruz said he was invited to program the Filipino lineup by Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, curator for the section. Weerasethakul won the Cannes fest Palme D’Or in 2010 for “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.”
Other “programmers” include Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton; film critic Jean-Pierre Rehm; journalist Alcino Leite Neto; industry executives Ali Jaafar and Mehelli Modi; and academician Steve Anker.
According to the website, Sharjah Biennial aims to be a “cultural bridge between artists, art institutions and organizations, locally, regionally and internationally.
“It’s the first time for Philippine films to join the event,” said De la Cruz. More than a hundred artists, architects, filmmakers, musicians and performers from the Middle East, Asia, North Africa and East Asia will participate in the Sharjah Biennial, considered “the most prestigious and celebrated arts event in the Arab world.” It is produced by the Department of Culture and Information in the Emirate of Sharjah.
A poet, musician and filmmaker, De la Cruz was one of the honorees in the 1st Inquirer Indie Bravo! Tribute in 2010.