Joel Shepard

Master filmmaker Lav Diaz, the conscience of Filipino Cinema, makes epic social dramas, which  require a special commitment from the viewer because of their extreme running times. His new film consists of several oblique narratives, including the sotry of Florentina and her father’s efforts to trap her into prostitution, and two treasure hunters from the city. With majestic black-and-white cinematography, the film is an extraordinary immersion into the fundamental principles of cinema and its unique beauty. It is also an indelible protrait of the psychological aftermath of injustice.


What I saw was astonishing. And that means something coming from me, because I’ve stated that “astonishing” is the most overused and rarely ture word used in film festival catalogs.


Lav isn’t making paintnings, he’s building mountains. With majestic black-and-white HD cinematography, the film had multiple narrative, kind of series of portraits of inner and outer landscapes: human stories, history and the natural world.


Very intense things start to happen to you while watching Lav’s work. You gain a deeper understanding of the basic principals of cinema and its unique beauty. You learn things about your own mind; its capacity for concentration and methods of resistance. It’s perhaps similar to a form of mindfulness and meditation, where you continually nudge your attention back to your breath when your mind starts wandering. You also gain ineer strength from the fact that you’ve made this serious commitment to a work of art. And, you will learn hard truths about how some people live in a great, troubled country, one that we Americans have responsibilty to know more about. It’s quite amazing, a gift and a privilege to experience.