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Lav Diaz film, TV series tackle issues during ‘oppressive regime’

/ 12:30 AM June 13, 2022
John Lloyd Cruz as Servando Monzon III. STORY: Lav Diaz film, TV series tackle issues during ‘oppressive regime’

John Lloyd Cruz as Servando Monzon III

Multiawarded indie filmmaker Lav Diaz’s latest film, “Isang Salaysay ng Karahasang Pilipino” (A Tale of Filipino Violence), will have its world premiere as part of the international competition category of the 33rd International Film Festival Marseille that will be held in France in July.

However, what is equally interesting is the fact that the enigmatic and reclusive Diaz has agreed to make an eight-episode television series, titled “Servando Magdamag,” that will be streamed on iWantTFC later this year.

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“Isang Salaysay ng Karahasang Pilipino,” which runs for 6 hours and 29 minutes and features John Lloyd Cruz in the lead, will be screened at the FIDMarseille from July 5 to 15.

And, there’s more. Diaz explained that it was a film he “constructed from the commissioned TV series.” It focuses on Servando Monzon III and takes place during the “burgeoning oppressive regime of Ferdinand Marcos.”

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Cruz (right) with Shaina Magdayao. STORY: Lav Diaz film, TV series tackle issues during ‘oppressive regime’

Cruz (right) with Shaina Magdayao

Servando, inheritor of the hacienda and businesses of his powerful clan, agonizes on becoming the new feudal lord. “He is aware of his clan’s long history of violence; he knows the very violent history of his county; and he foresees a very violent future with the Marcos dictatorship,” Diaz explained.

Challenge acceptedBoth the film and the TV series are based on the short story and script written by Ricky Lee, which Diaz described as “the venerable giant of Filipino scriptwriting.”

“I accepted the challenge to write and direct a television series because it was an adaptation of my favorite short story, ‘Servando Magdamag.’ It was a chance to crack on an impregnable work. Nobody ever dared to adapt the piece; that’s how fortified the nature of the work is. My version will surely run the risk of being seen as sacrilege,” the director stressed. With Lee’s “blessings,” however, Diaz wrote and filmed a material designed to suit an eight-part television series. Included in the deal was that Diaz could make a film version and it will be shown ahead of the television schedules.

“Servando Magdamag” is his first teleserye, said Diaz. “I did write for television before, just a few teleplays for a drama anthology and a sitcom, and some skits/scenes for an educational show for children. So, the nature of things coming from the idiot box at least I have some understanding, despite ignoring its existence for 40 years now. But during my intermittent travels, in spaces called hotel rooms and Airbnb apartments, I do open CNN or BBC to check the news and the time of day since I don’t own a watch or a cell phone,” he explained.

Charo Santos-Concio in “Isang Salaysay ng Karahasang Pilipino”. STORY: Lav Diaz film, TV series tackle issues during ‘oppressive regime’

Charo Santos-Concio in “Isang Salaysay ng Karahasang Pilipino”

Diaz then shared his views on “television writing” in the Philippines. “Especially for dramas and telenovelas, it is so detail-oriented and is allowed and expected to go haywire with its plot, subplots, tropes, arcs and character developments. Melodrama is a given, too,” he pointed out. “I worked on these attributes and challenges while writing and shooting. Part of the challenge, of course, was that we shot the work during the height of the pandemic.”

Trauma“The short story is a deep treatise on the agrarian issues and feudal setup of Filipino society,” Diaz further said. “My adaptation, while being true to its vision, discoursed further on the issue of trauma and fractures on the psyche as caused by interminable violence in all its forms.”

Both the film and series feature performances from the following: Charo Santos-Concio, Shaina Magdayao, Agot Isidro, Bart Guingona, Hazel Orencio, Nanding Josef, Noel Miralles, Noel Sto. Domingo, Earl Ignacio, Susan Africa, Topper Fabregas, Gio Gahol, Shing Gener, Air Salazar, Allen Alzola, Angelica Shivers, Max Celada, Jo Ann Requiestas, Glendel Dacumos, Lhorvie Nuevo, Ace Urieta, Reynan Abcede and Erlyn Medalle. This is a coproduction by Cinema One, Black Sheep, iWantTFC and sine olivia pilipinas.

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TAGS: 33rd International Film Festival Marseille, Lav Diaz, Marcos martial law
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