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RP film wins in Venice fest

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Lav Diaz

by Ricky Lo
Philippine Star, Sept. 8, 2008

Lav Diaz’s Melancholia won the Best Film Award in the Orizzonti Section of the 65th Venice International Film Festival which ended Saturday.

This piece of good news was relayed to The STAR by Funfare’s Toronto-based “international correspondent” Ferdinand Lapuz who is a member of the Philippine delegation to the filmfest in his capacity as producer of Jay, the other Filipino film which competed in the same section.

According to a report from Venice, the decision of the Orizzonti Jury (composed of Chantal, president; Nicole Brenez, Barbara Cupisti, Jose Luis Guerin, and Veiko Ounpuu) was unanimous.

The three runners-up are:

  • Below Sea Level by Gianfranco Rosi (Italy/USA), Doc Prize;
  • Un Lac by Philippe Grandrieux (France), Special Mention; and
  • Wo Men (We) by Huang Wenhai (China/Switzerland), also Special Mention.

No Filipino film competed for the Golden Lion, the top prize in the Main Section which was won by The Wrestler (USA), directed by Darren Aronofsky; and Russia’s Paper Soldier, directed by Aleksey German Jr., placing second (Silver Lion).

Chosen as closing film of the filmfest, Melancholia, which runs for almost eight hours and shot in various places in the Philippines, tries to explore the question of why there’s “so much sadness and so much madness” in this world, in the end finding no answer at all.

It stars Angeli Bayani, Perry Dizon, Roeder Camanag, Raul Arellano, Dante Perez, Malaya and Soliman Cruz.

It’s the second time for Diaz to have won an award at the VIFF. Last year, he won a Special Mention award for his nine-hour film Kagadanan Sa Banwaan Ning Mga Engkanto (Death in the Land of Enkantos) which depicts the death and desolation of the Bicol region after a killer typhoon.

“The Venice International Film Festival shouldn’t be confused with the Venice Film Festival (take note: No ‘international’), also in Italy, and another Venice Film Festival in the US,” said lawyer-producer Joji Alonso who is well-versed about international film festivals because some of her films, including Kubrador (directed by Jeffrey Jeturian), have won awards abroad.

The Venice International Film Festival was initially known as D Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica di Venezia.

Meanwhile, the Baron Geisler-starrer Jay, directed by Francis Xavier Pasion, was initially intended for the Luigi de Laurentiis Award for Debut Film but it qualified for the Orizzonti, which is a bigger section.

Born in 1958 in Datu Paglas, Maguindanao, an island in Mindanao, Diaz is recognized as “the ideological father of the New Philippine Film Movement,” noted for making films that run for hours, also including Batang West Side (2002), Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino (2005) and Heremias subtitled Ikalawang Alkat: Ang Alamat ng Prinsesang Bayawak (2006).

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