Lav Diaz’s epic Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon (From What Is Before) won the top prize at the 67th Locarno International Film Festival.
The Filipino filmmaker personally received the coveted Golden Leopard trophy or Pardo d’oro during the ceremony held in Switzerland.
The award comes with a 90,000 CHF (Swiss Franc) prize, to be shared between the director and producers Sine Olivia Pilipinas and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).
The five-and-a-half-hour movie, presented in black-and-white, depicts the lives of poor villagers in one of the remotest regions of the Philippines before Martial Law was declared.
Loosely based on real events and characters, the film examines how an individual and collective psyche responds to extreme and mysterious changes in social and physical environment.
Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon was also bestowed with the Premio FIPRESCI, the Premio “L’ambiente e qualita di vita,” and the Premio FICC/IFFS.
The film’s star Hazel Orencio won the Boccalino de Oro Independent Critics Award for Best Actress.
“I want to dedicate this to my father. He brought me cinema, he’s a cinema addict, and he started this passion in me. For the Filipino people, it’s for them, for their struggle,” Lav told the Locarno press after the ceremony.
Lav also dedicated his award “to all serious filmmakers in the world,” specifying Pedro Costa whom he called "my brother" and Matías Piñeiro of Argentina.
When asked if “this is the victory of Slow Cinema over Fast Cinema?” Lav replied, “Everything is Cinema for me, so I don’t want to label things.”
Malacañang congratulated Lav and Hazel for this remarkable feat.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda was quoted as saying:
“Once again, we have shown to the world that the Filipinos are undeniably talented. We congratulate Lav Diaz and Hazel Orencio and all those who worked on the film for showcasing the Filipino’s competence in the field of arts and culture.”
FDCP Chairman Briccio Santos points out: “The award is an unprecedented honor for our country.
"We are elated considering it has been quite some time that a Filipino film landed in the main competition of an A-list film festival such as Locarno.
"It is an affirmation of the perseverance of filmmakers like Lav Diaz, to bring to the world’s attention the story of our people and the saga of our nation as we strive and struggle for better conditions and well-being for our countrymen. It is through cinema that we can recover our soul and voice as a people and that is why this film by Lav Diaz and its victory is so significant and most meaningful.”
The FDCP is working on an immediate screening run of Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon here in the Philippines.