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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Focus on the Philippines: Lav Diaz’s political musical competes in Berlinale

Plus: Filipino photojournalist honoured by White House Photographers Association; The Revenger Squad breaks box-office records; Allen Dizon wins best actor in Dhaka festival

Actor Piolo Pascual and director Lav Diaz at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. Courtesy Berlinale
Actor Piolo Pascual and director Lav Diaz at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival. Courtesy Berlinale

Filipino director Lav Diaz’s latest feature Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil) has been selected for the main competition of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, which will be held in Germany from February 15 to 25.

The musical, set during the military dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos, tells the story of a man whose wife has been abducted in their remote village.

Diaz’s film will compete against 18 other features from around the world, including works by directors Gus Van Sant, Wes Anderson, Mani Haghighi and Laura Bispuri.

Ang Panahon ng Halimaw stars actors Piolo Pascual, Shaina Magdayao, Pinky Amador, Bituin Escalente, Joel Saracho, Angel Aquino, Hazel Orencio and Bart Guingona. The black-and-white film features 33 songs that Diaz composed.

It is the second collaboration between Diaz and leading actor Pascual, who headlined the director’s eight-hour epic Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), which premiered and competed at the 2016 edition of the Berlin Film Festival, winning the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize.

In an interview, Diaz told the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “The one significant thing really is that a Filipino film is part of the main competition. Even if I were not the director of this film, you know, the issue of pride … It is just cool for Philippine cinema to be there.”

Filipino photojournalist honoured by White House Photographers Association

Pulitzer Prize-winning Filipino photographer Cheryl Diaz Meyer was honoured earlier this week at The Eyes of History contest organised by the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA). The Eyes of History contests are held annually to select the best in visual journalism across still, video and multimedia disciplines.

Diaz Meyer’s photographs of the Rohingya refugees swept all the awards in the International News Category, winning the first, second, and third place trophies, as well as two Awards of Excellence. Her winning photographs can be viewed at the WHNPA’s website.

Diaz Meyer said in response to her wins: “Thank you to the judges of the WHNPA for this immense honour. I’ve never been awarded an entire category in any competition, and I’m deeply moved. I hope this increases awareness for the plight of the Rohingya refugees, who Bangladesh wants to repatriate to Myanmar.”

Born in Manila, Diaz Meyer won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2004 for her coverage of the Iraq war for The Dallas Morning News.

The Revenger Squad breaks box-office records

A month after its release on Christmas Day, the Filipino superhero comedy Gandarrapido: The Revenger Squad has made history as the highest-grossing Filipino movie of all time. The film has earned over 571 million Philippine pesos (Dh41.2 million) in ticket sales, excluding international screenings, according to the film’s production studio Star Cinema.

Directed by Joyce Bernal, The Revenger Squad is headlined by Vice Ganda, Daniel Padilla and Pia Wurtzbach in her first feature film after winning the Miss Universe pageant in 2015.

After the film officially broke the box-office record last week, its cast and crew came together for a victory party organised by Star Cinema.

A post shared by STAR Cinema (@starcinema) on

This week, Wurtzbach signed on to star in her next film project, a romantic comedy titled My Perfect You, co-starring actor Gerald Anderson.

Allen Dizon wins best actor in Dhaka festival

Filipino star Allan Dizon won the Best Actor prize for his role in director Ralston Jover’s Bomba (The Bomb) at the 16th Dhaka International Film Festival, held in Bangladesh this week.

Dizon was also honoured for his acting at the recent Warsaw International Film Festival in Poland.

Aside from Bomba, two other Filipino films screened at the Dhaka festival: Nabubulok (The Decaying) by Sonny Calventos and Baconaua by Joseph Israel Laban.

In other festival news, five Filipino films will screen at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, which is being held in the Netherlands until February 4. The films are: Gerald Calagui’s Mga Gabing Kasinghaba ng Hair Ko (Those Long-Haired Nights), Christopher Gozum’s Dapol Tan Payawar na Tayug 1931 (The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931), Alberto Monteras II’s Respeto (Respect), Mikhail Red’s Neomanila and Shireen Seño’s Nervous Translation.

Meanwhile, Zig Dulay’s feature Bagahe (The Baggage) is headed to three festivals in Europe: at the Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema in France, held from January 30 to February 6, the London International Film Festival, held from February 10 to 17 and the Amsterdam International Film Festival, held from August 11 to 18.

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