As no other filmmaker, Lav Diaz is involved with the suffering of the people of the Philippines, with its history of colonialism, corruption and poverty. A philosophical drama about the psychological effects of injusti...展开ce and arbitrariness. Two poor labourers leave the city looking for a treasure.
Few filmmakers make films as long as those of Lav Diaz. Six hours is not even particularly long within his oeuvre. He has films to his name that are twice that long. And even fewer filmmakers would want to reshoot a film they’ve already made. Yet that’s what happened here. Lav Diaz shot a first version of Florentina Hubaldo, CTE in 2009. Once he had a HD camera, he decided to shoot the film again. Another long film. Back to distant and inhospitable locations. It says a lot about this filmmaker's commitment that he does not make life easy for himself when telling his epic social dramas.
Florentina Hubaldo, CTE has several protagonists. There are the two construction workers, Manoling and Juan, who have become unemployed and left the city to go digging for treasure. There’s the shopkeeper Manang Nena who makes her daughter become a prostitute. And the Harvard-business student Briggs who takes over his family's feudal company. Stories that show the extreme aspects of the Philippines.
Programmer Note by Gertjan Zuilhof:
Lav Diaz in Rotterdam: Florentina Hubaldo, CTE: 300' x 2 = 600' + Century, 355' x 2 = 710' + Butterflies: 58' x 3 = 174' + Melancholia: 480' x 3 = 1440' + Purgatorio: 16' x 2 = 32' + Encantos: 540' x 2 = 1080' + Heremias book 1': 540' x 1 = 540' + When the Rain Ended: 7' x 2 = 14' + Evolution: 630' x 2 =1260'. Total: 5850 / 60 = 97.5 hours.
Yes, I decided to count it all up. After the screening of Florentina Hubaldo, CTE, the festival has screened almost 100 hours of Lav Diaz. Lav Diaz is the master of the long film, which is called more elegantly in French film fleuve, and since his masterpiece Evolution of a Philippine Family (2005) we have followed his work closely. Or, to pursue the French metaphor, we have drifted down the river with him.
There’s plenty to be said about the work of Lav Diaz. These are opulent stories that are embedded in a complex social-political and geographical history, but they are also just long or very long films that demand a certain physical perseverance from the Spectator.
I love to allow myself to be swept away by the full length and duration of the films, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally drift off. For instance - I think it was in 2006 - I saw the rough version of Heremias on the Philippine vacation island Boracay. The Cinemanila festival was accustomed to organising workshops on the island and Lav Diaz was to screen his latest majestic work at night in the open air on the famous white beach. I didn’t want to miss that.. For technical reasons, the screening was moved inside and at the end of the film, Lav Diaz's producer, himself and I were the only spectators left. 'Last-man standing,' Lav said about me next day to the director of the Cinemanila Festival, which wasn’t quite true. During the final titles, I was shaken awake by the master so I was just in time to see the HBF logo.