Lav’s 8-hr epic bags silver in Berlin | Inquirer Entertainment

Lav’s 8-hr epic bags silver in Berlin

/ 12:35 AM February 22, 2016

Lav Diaz accepts Silver Bear.  Photo courtesy of Cherrie Gil

Lav Diaz accepts Silver Bear. Photo courtesy of Cherrie Gil

APART from bagging the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize at the 66th Berlinale, the Filipino cast and crew of Lav Diaz’s “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” brought home snapshots with A-list Hollywood stars and a trunk full of glitzy memories.

“We are so happy. This award is for the country. We are carrying the nation’s flag in Germany,” Diaz told the Inquirer.


After scoring a selfie with Oscar winning actress and jury president Meryl Streep, actress Cherie Gil said, “I’m in heaven.”


Gil, who played a mythical tikbalang (half-horse/half-human) in “Hele,” told the Inquirer via Facebook that Streep and other jury members went out of their way to speak with the Filipino contingent.

“Meryl is the warmest and most gracious goddess I’ve ever met in my life. She said she was grateful that she had the opportunity to see our film,” Gil said.

True and humble artist

“Meryl said she was cozy throughout the screening. I adore her. Her true essence always remains beneath the varied characters she plays. She is a true and humble artist,” she added.

Bernardo Bernardo, who also played a tikbalang in the film, got a kiss from jury member, Oscar-nominated actor Clive Owen.

“Mr. Owen was so cool,” Bernardo said. “He enjoyed the ‘Hele’ team so much that he invited us to join the after-party party.”


Producer Bianca Balbuena said Streep also talked with cast members Hazel Orencio and Susan Africa at the dinner after the awards ceremony on Saturday night (in Berlin).

“Meryl told Susan and Hazel: ‘It’s an honor to see you live and in color. You are so beautiful,’” Balbuena said.

Shot in black and white

Diaz’s expansive epic on the Philippine revolution was shot in stunning black and white by cinematographer Larry Manda.

Executive producer Paul Soriano said that meeting Streep was


“She was so nice and welcoming,” Soriano said of the three-time Oscar winner. “We talked about the film and how it literally took her a whole day to watch it.”

The two-part premiere on Feb. 18 began at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break.

Soriano said he considered “Hele” his apprenticeship under a film master.

He also attended a master class under Streep held a few days before the awards show.

According to the Berlinale website, the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize is awarded to a feature film “that opens new perspectives.”

Some observers said such a protracted film may be a “tough sell” for audiences, distributors and theater owners.

Length no longer an issue

Soriano begged to disagree, insisting that length is no longer an issue in the age of binge-watching, video-on-demand and mobile phone/tablet viewing.

He expressed the hope that “Hele,” which will be distributed locally by Star Cinema, will find an audience in the Philippines.

The film features box office stars John Lloyd Cruz and Piolo Pascual.

Diaz earlier told the Inquirer that it could be released in two four-hour parts in local theaters.

In his acceptance speech, Diaz dedicated the award to “filmmakers who want to change” the world.

Gianfranco Rosi’s “Fire at Sea” (Italy), a documentary on Europe’s refugee crisis, won the Golden Bear. Danis Tanovic’s Bosnian drama “Death in Sarajevo” won the Silver Bear Grand Jury.

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Best Director went to Mia Hansen-Love’s “Things to Come” (France); Best Actress to Trine Dyrholm for Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Commune” (Denmark) and Best Actor to Majd Mastoura for Mohamed Ben Attia’s “Hedi” (Tunisia).

TAGS: 66th Berlinale, Entertainment, Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, Lav Diaz, news

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