Lav Diaz’ ‘rock opera’ to compete at Berlin

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Award-winning auteur Lav Diaz’s latest film, Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil) has been selected as one of about 20 films vying for the Golden Bear award for best film at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival next month.

This comes after Diaz’s previous film, the revenge drama Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left), earned three nominations at the 15th International Cinephile Society (ICS) Awards, almost two years after it won the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival.

In a statement on Monday night (local time), Berlinale festival organizers said Ang Panahon ng Halimaw is one of five features added to the 24-film main competition lineup, which already includes the newest works of American directors Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs) and Gus Van Sant (Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot).

Bituin Escalante, Bart Guingona and Piolo Pascual in a scene from ‘Ang Panahon ng Halimaw.’  SCREENGRAB FROM THE FILM’S TRAILER

Described as a rock opera, Ang Panahon ng Halimaw focuses on a distant village being terrorized by a group of militias during the martial-law era. It reportedly runs for three hours and 50 minutes.


Its cast includes Piolo Pascual, Shaina Magdayao, Pinky Amador, Angel Aquino, Bituin Escalante, Bart Guingona, Hazel Orencio and Joel Saracho.

Pascual, Aquino, Guingona, Orencio and Saracho alsoacted in Diaz’s previous Berlinale entry, the eight-hour Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), which won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize—named after the festival’s founder—at the event’s 2016 edition.

This year’s festival will run from February 15 to 25.The awarding ceremony will be held on February 24.

Established in 1951, the Berlin festival is considered one of the three most prestigious film festivals in the world, the others being Cannes and Venice.

ICS nods
Earlier on Monday, ICS announced in a statement on its website that Ang Babaeng Humayo was nominated for supporting actor for John Lloyd Cruz, adapted screenplay for Diaz, and film not in the English language.

The nearly four-hour film centers on a schoolteacher named Horacia Somorostro (Charo Santos-Concio), who begins plotting revenge against the jealous ex-lover who framed her for a murder that put her in prison for 30 years.

Cruz plays Hollanda, a transgender prostitute whom Horacia befriends after she was cleared of the crime and freed from jail. The film is loosely based on Leo Tolstoy’s 1872 short story “God Sees the Truth, but Waits.”

The gay coming-of-age feature Call Me By Your Name led this year’s ICS nominations with 11, including picture, director for Luca Guadagnino, and actor for Timothée Chalamet.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread came next with eight, including picture, director, and actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.

Winners of this year’s ICS Awards will be announced on February 4.

The ICS nominations came a year after Ang Babaeng Humayo received three nominations—director and screenplay for Diaz and actress for Santos-Concio—at the 11th Asian Film Awards.

Founded in 2003, ICS is an online group made up of approximately 100 accredited journalists, film scholars, historians and other industry professionals who cover film festivals and events on five continents. Every year it honors the finest in American and international cinema.

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