IndieWire: ‘Halimaw’ is one of Berlinale’s 10 must-see films
IndieWire critics David Ehrlich and Eric Kohn have chosen Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw” (Season of the Devil) as one of the “10 must-see films” at the Berlinale, ongoing in Germany until Feb. 25.
The duo sums up this year’s Berlin lineup as “an incredibly eclectic (and almost overwhelmingly large) cornucopia of new cinema.”
Diaz’s latest film is on the same “required watching” list as Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Unsane.”
Kohn points out: “Diaz makes very, very long movies…
but they’re always worthwhile for viewers willing to embrace the challenge.”
He describes Diaz’s oeuvre as “deep-dives into his country’s troubled history, [which]…
often wows festival juries unprepared for his ambition.”
“Ang Panahon ng Halimaw” is one such polemical plunge into the Philippines’ past—specifically tackling the disappearance of a progressive doctor in an isolated village ruled by a militia during the Marcos era.
“The culture of fear percolates throughout the small community,” Kohn recounts the story of the film which “explores the nuances of life under martial law.”
What makes Diaz’s latest outing different, Kohn asserts, is that it’s a musical. “Or something like it. Diaz has called the movie ‘an antimusical, a rock opera, whatever you want to call it.’ (How about a Lav Diaz movie? That’s always worked before.)”
Singularity of vision
Kohn remarks: “Few working filmmakers produce such uncompromising work with the singularity of vision that Diaz has maintained, so this one is certain to be a conversation-starter at the 2018 Berlinale.”
Producer Bianca Balbuena says of the indieWire essay: “Being considered as one of ‘10 must-see’ movies among the 400 films showing at the Berlinale was a big surprise. I was so excited that I immediately told the whole cast about it.”
At the same time, however, Balbuena was also prepared for the early positive buzz. “As a big fan of Lav, I was somehow expecting that the festival audience would be curious to see him do a musical.”
She sums up the film as “painful to watch.” “It’s so true, so straightforward, so angry, brave and yet so poetically crafted. That’s the magic of Lav.”
Diaz and the rest of the “Halimaw” team started arriving in Berlin last Saturday, but lead actor Piolo Pascual would be flying in an hour before the red carpet world premiere tomorrow.
Other screening dates of Diaz’s film in Berlin are on Feb. 21 (12:30 and 6:30 p.m.) and Feb. 22 (9:30 a.m.).
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