Lav Diaz (1958, Philippines), filmmaker
The visionary filmmaker Lav Diaz radically re-imagines cinematic time and space. He films in ‘real time’ to immerse the viewer in deep reflection on Filipino history and experience, exploring themes of violent fascism, corruption, discrimination and poverty, and challenging the superficial commercialism of the global film industry.
Report from the 2014 Prince Claus Awards Committee
Lav Diaz (1958, Datu Paglas, Mindanao) is a filmmaker who creates profound reflections of the Philippines’ socio-political history and present. He follows an organic, improvisatory approach, keeping close to real life. This includes the use of real time, which radically alters the quality of viewing and is a crucial characteristic of his aesthetic. The extended duration of his films enables the viewer to enter deeply into the experiences and emotions depicted, fostering knowledge and understanding that cannot occur in the usual 90-minute formula.
Grounded in local realities, his epic narratives articulate the problems of the country through individual experience of violent fascism, exploitation, corruption, discrimination, and the resulting suffering, poverty and struggle to endure. Diaz foregrounds the inescapable impact of the past on people’s lives through a broad yet focused representation, using rhythm, repetition, poetic detail, silence and small gestures that carry immense meaning. Ebolusyon (Evolution of a Filipino Family, 11 hours, 2004) is centred on an abandoned child living with a mentally ill woman and her brother, who aids the struggle by stealing ammunition from the bodies of dead military. Incorporating historical footage from the Marcos period of rallies and riots, popular soap scripts and a discourse on cinema of resistance, the film dissects class struggles and commercialism. Melancholia (7 hours, 2008) shows the struggle from the perspective of the resistance fighters. Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (Norte,The End Of History, 4 hours, 2013), examines punishment of the innocent in contemporary Philippines.
Lav Diaz is honoured for his uniquely moving portrayals of the complexities of Filipino reality; for expanding and intensifying cinematic experience through his innovative approach to the art of filmmaking; for expressing truth and building a powerful cultural legacy for national healing and international understanding of the Philippines;for challenging the dominant commercially and politically driven uses of cinema; and for remaining true to his art and his intentions, providing inspiration for others working outside the mainstream.