"A PAIR OF PHILIPPINE MASTERPIECES"
Rotterdam International Film Festival Review by Olaf Möller
FILM COMMENT, Published by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York March-April 2005, Vol. 41, No. 2
Lav Diaz's EVOLUTION OF A FILIPINO FAMILY
The festival's greatest film --- and at 10 hours and 43 minutes, the longest --- was Philippine filmmaker Lav Diaz's "Evolution Of A Filipino Family", a high-modernist epic about a family of farmers living for 15 years under a state of siege during the Marcos era. In one plot thread, a family member is hired to kill real-life filmmaker Lino Brocka; to study his target, he's given a tape of 'The Lost Brocka', a film directed by Diaz's "Batang Westside" documentarist and moral catalyst Taga Timog, but is so moved by Brocka and his vision of his country that he is unable to go through with it --- and is stabbed. In a single soul-wrenching, mesmerizing take, a long bleeding stumble to his last breath becomes an awe-inspiring testament to the idea that the power of cinema belongs to the people. That such sentiments are evoked in a work which maybe only a handful of people will see is only a surface contradiction --- Diaz'sfilm isn't meant for any market, it's an offering to the director's countrymen, who will discover it in the years and decades to come. It's a labor of love made from the passing of time and echoes reverberating faintly across history's vast plains.
Khavn's THE FAMILY THAT EATS SOIL
With his crisp, 75-minute The Family That Eats Soil, Khavn De La Cruz (the festival's coolest revelation) provided a hyper-condensed punk-trash take on Philippine family politics. At times it plays like a de-Pasolinized version of Takashi Miike's Visitor Q, at others like an absurdist experimental bomba flick. Yet it always feels as if cinema is about to end and only no-holds-barred videomaking can save the world. More on Khavn (who these days only signs his filmless films with his given name) in an upcoming issue.
[Olaf Möller is a writer, translator and curator based in Cologne.]