Outtakes: Lav Diaz

Lav Diaz  

WHO is he?

Filipino filmmaker, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor, cinematographer, poet, playwright and composer who has made 16 feature films since his debut in 1998. To count his movies as feature-length films would be grossly undervaluing his artistic output, given that most of these works have a runtime of several hours. The film that brought him onto the international film scene in a big way, Evolution Of A Filipino Family (2004), runs for almost eleven hours!

WHAT are his films about?


Diaz’s films must rank among the most politically committed today. They have regularly criticised Ferdinand Marcos’ rule of the Philippines, hitting out against his corrupt governance and high handed-methods. The figure of the artist plays a major role in these films, frequently going against the establishment with heart-wrenching consequences. They have also dealt with the life of migrant Filipinos in the United States and often combine mythical elements and political commentary.


Most of Diaz’s films are shot in black and white — which has both a thematic and stylistic justification — with digital cameras and direct sound. They employ very long shots, often framing characters from a distance amidst landscapes and in deep space. Scenes primarily consist of long stretches of dead time — speechless duration in which mood and atmosphere replace plot and psychological explanation. However, there are also scenes with extended amount of dialogue and poetry with explicit political criticism and polemic.

WHY is he of interest?

One of the most outspoken and artless filmmakers working today, Diaz's cinema is something of a reminder of an era in which commitment and political belief were still considered virtues of good art. In an age where sincere idealism is fodder for parody and films running for more than three hours are looked upon with suspicion, Diaz’s cinema comes across as both anachronistic and nonconformist. In a way, their very existence in their current form is both a registration of protest and a testament of hope.

WHERE to discover him?

Flamboyant, self-referential and incisive, Evolution Of A Filipino Family combines various styles of filmmaking such as talking-head interviews, newsreels and epic narration and examines the most familiar of Diaz’s themes such as the art-commerce dichotomy, the tragic persistence of past and the necessity of resistance — political and artistic — in a manner that blurs the line between fiction and reality.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 7:08:26 PM |

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