Screenplay Lav Diaz
Cinematography Larry Manda
Music Lav Diaz
Cast Piolo Pascual, Shaina Magdayao
Genre Rock opera in nero
Première: Berlin International Film Festival
In the late 1970s, a military-controlled militia is oppressing a remote village in the Philippine jungle. The uniformed men armed with machine guns are responsible for spreading a terror that is both physical and psychological in nature. They create an atmosphere in which neighbours become enemies and seek to eradicate the villagers’ faith in legends and spirits. Fearless young doctor Lorena opens a clinic for the poor, but disappears without a trace shortly afterwards. Her husband, the poet, activist and teacher Hugo Haniway, wants to find out the truth of his wife’s whereabouts. When he arrives, he is confronted with a community shattered by despotism and violence.
Lav Diaz describes his film as a Philippine rock opera. Penned by the director himself, the lyrics of the film’s songs pick up on the gloomy mood during the Marcos dictatorship and, lamenting the conditions, describe tremendous suffering, the monstrousness of which cannot be captured in images. The film’s story and characters are based on true events and real individuals. The resulting idiosyncratic mixture of music film and historical drama reaffirms Lav Diaz’s reputation as a chronicler of his country’s traumas.