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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Focus on the Philippines: Lav Diaz film on history and mythology hits the festival circuit

Plus: Nadine Lustre and James Reid’s new film and TV series and Taklub claims top prize at Philippine Oscars.
A scene from Lav Diaz’s Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis. Photo by Bradley Liew
A scene from Lav Diaz’s Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis. Photo by Bradley Liew

Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz’s latest movie, the eight-and-a-half-hour opus Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), continues to make the rounds at international film festivals. After winning the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year, it was screened at festivals in Hong Kong, Belgium, Lithuania and Istanbul. This week it was featured at both the Riviera Maya Film Festival in Mexico and the Moscow International Film Festival in Russia.

Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis will also screen at this week’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic, which starts tomorrow and ends on July 9. The movie will then proceed to the Jerusalem Film Festival (July 7 to 17), the Melbourne International Film Festival (July 28 to August 14) and the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival in Poland (July 21 to 31).

The film chronicles the rich revolutionary history and mythology of the Philippines. It is headlined by two of the country’s most popular actors, Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz, and features a star-studded ensemble cast of Alessandra de Rossi, Susan Africa, Bernardo Bernardo, Cherie Gil, Angel Aquino and Sid Lucero.

Diaz, 57, is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in Philippine independent cinema. He is currently working on a new film titled Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Went Away). It will be the cinematic comeback of 60-year-old actress Charo Santos-Concio, who has not appeared in a feature film in about two decades.

This week it was also announced that Santos-Concio will co-star in the movie with Cruz, Michael de Mesa, Shamaine Buencamino, Nonie Buencamino and Mae Paner. While specific details about the film’s plot are being kept under wraps, sources say it is based on the Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, But Waits, about a man sent to prison for a murder he did not commit.

Lustre and Reid’s new film and TV series

Nadine Lustre and James Reid, one of the Philippines’ most popular on-screen supercouples, announced that they will star in a new film as well as a television series, both of which will be directed by Antoinette Jadaone. Jadaone previously helmed the duo’s romantic-comedy series On the Wings of Love, which was broadcast last year worldwide, including in the UAE on The Filipino Channel.

Lustre and Reid announced at a press conference on Monday that their new programme will be titled Till I Met You and will also feature new actor J C Santos. It is scheduled to debut in September.

No details were revealed about their forthcoming film – only that it is definitely in the works. Lustre and Reid recently starred in the blockbuster romcom hit This Time, which screened in May.

The couple, who have also released music records, visited Dubai and Doha in March to perform in sold-out shows to thousands of their Filipino fans. Their international tour also featured stops in London, Milan and 13 cities across the United States and Canada.

“That was definitely a milestone for us – to travel the world and see thousands of fans everywhere,” Reid said. “It’s so overwhelming.”

Lustre added: “It felt great seeing our fans and thank them personally for their support.”

During the press conference, television executives of ABS-CBN announced other new programmes debuting in the network this year, aside from Till I Met You. They include the seventh season of Pinoy Big Brother, the return of the game show Minute to Win It and a new reality-­singing show for Filipino boy groups called Pinoy Boyband Superstar, to be presented by Korean pop star Sandara Park.

Taklub claims top prize at Philippine Oscars

Brillante Mendoza’s Taklub (Trap), about families who survived a devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2013, took home the best picture prize at the 39th Gawad Urian Awards, considered as the Philippines’s most prestigious award-giving body for cinema. Headlined by veteran actress Nora Aunor, Taklub was the only Filipino film that screened at the 2015 Dubai International Film Festival. The movie also screened at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

L J Reyes won the best actress award for her performance in Jun Lana’s Anino sa Likod ng Buwan (The Shadow Behind the Moon), while John Lloyd Cruz was awarded best actor for Erik Matti’s crime thriller Honour Thy Father.

Bernardo Bernardo, who made a comeback in cinema at age 71 in Lawrence Fajardo’s Imbisibol (Invisible), won the best supporting actor prize. “It’s never too late. Senior citizens are still the priority,” he quipped.

Imbisibol tells the story of undocumented Filipino workers in Japan. Bernardo dedicated his award to overseas Filipino workers “who are considered our modern-day heroes”.

artslife@thenational.ae