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‘Halimaw’ – raw, organic

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By Nestor Cuartero

JUST A THOUGHT: “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

NEW ROUND OF CONTROVERSY: New Lav Diaz opus, “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil),” is bound to create a new round of controversy as well as stir various emotions, some of them violent.

The 4-hour film has made the rounds of international film festivals, winning the best film award in the Gems section of the 58th Festival Internacional de Cine Cartagena de Indias held in Colombia in March 2018.

“Halimaw,” described as a groundbreaking Filipino rock opera, is rawness personified. Told in sing-song fashion, it tackles significant social issues (summary execution, abduction and death) that are as relevant today as they were during the film’s setting and timeline, the 70s, at the height of martial law in the Philippines.

We caught the film during a special preview hosted by Globe Telecom last week in Makati.

One can also say Lav Diaz is in his most órganic’ state in this film. Practically the entire dialog is rendered through singing with no definite melody and without musical accompaniment at that.

The singing style is reminiscent of the Philippine pasyon, traditional reading through song and chant of Christ’s passion and death, a popular practice among Catholics during Holy Week. It is considered a dying art.

BIG STARS AS HEADLINERS: “Halimaw” stars mainstream luminaries Piolo Pascual, Shaina Magdayao, Pinky Amador, and Angel Aquino. The film was shot for 17 days at a remote resort in a Malaysian forest.

It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival.

Special screenings of “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw” started May 30 in select Ayala theaters in Manila and Cebu.

WHAT THEY SAY: Hollywood trade paper, Variety, praises the film and the director for remaining “emphatically his own artist, whether to exhilarating or punishing effect,” saying the movie has some “raw, stirring interludes.”

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian describes the director as a real auteur: “Every millisecond of his film has been rigorously created.”

Desistfilm writer Aldo Padilla says, “Lav is probably the freest famous filmmaker today.”

Jonathan Romney of Screen Daily calls it “A film of boldness and considerable beauty.”

The film’s showing is supported by Globe Telecom’s #PlayItRight advocacy which encourages Filipinos to enjoy entertainment through legitimate means such as cinemas and legal streaming apps.

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