The Lav Diaz film Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil) will finally be shown in the Philippines after earning recognitions abroad.
The four-hour movie will have its Manila premiere at the University of the Philippines Film Institute in Diliman on April 20.
This black-and-white rock opera musical stars Piolo Pascual and Shaina Magdayao as a couple living in a remote province in the Philippines in 1979. The poet/teacher/activist, Hugo Haniway (Piolo), decides to find out the truth about the disappearance of his wife Lorena (Shaina).
The producer Epicmedia, describes the film as "a love story set in the darkest period of Philippine history, the Marcos Dictatorship. The narrative and the characters are a composite of real events and real people that happened and existed during the period."
Ang Panahon ng Halimaw was one of 19 films that competed for the prestigious Golden Bear prize in the 68th Berlin International Film Festival.
At the press conference held as part of the Berlinale in Germany, Direk Lav revealed that he was supposed to do the screenplay of another movie but he decided to a musical instead.
Producer Bianca Balbuena pointed out that the veteran filmmaker composed all 33 songs that were used in the movie and the director even recorded the song used in the closing credits.
Direk Lav pointed out that even though his film is set during the martial-law era in the Philippines in the 1970s, even non-Pinoys would still be able to relate to it.
"The Filipino struggle is humanity's struggle.
"It's just the same. That's why you can relate to our stories as well.
"This is the same struggle.
"We have parallel histories and parallel struggles. All cultures have the same struggles.
"Now with fascism, with barbarism, it's everywhere. We have the same struggles."
The Filipino filmmaker then mentioned Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. president Donald Trump.
Direk Lav asked directly, "Why do we still have guys like Duterte, Trump and all those motherf****rs?"
Why did producer Bianca Balbuena decide to shoot the film in Malaysia?
"The politically correct answer would be, we want to strengthen collaborations in the Southeast Asian region but the real answer would be the political instability in the Philippines and the pressing issue we are tackling in the film.
"Where I come from, financing a Lav Diaz film is almost impossible because we deal with private equity and private investors.
"Unlike in Europe, you have 'soft' money and state funding. They call it soft money, the grants.
"They think of numbers and commercial viability.
"We do a Lav Diaz film because we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
"We produce a Lav Diaz to be part of a revolution that is fighting for our country, giving voice to the voiceless and that is priceless."
Pinky Amador, who plays Aling Sinta in the film, summed it up best by saying:
"What's really important here is that all the actors really took a risk in doing this film as we are really living in a time of the devil at the moment.
"It's a big risk. I really applaud everybody for doing that."
Also present at the press conference for Ang Panahon ng Halimaw press con were Hazel Orencio who is cast as Teniente and Joel Saracho who plays the Ahas.
Ang Panahon ng Halimaw won the Best Film award in the Gems section of 58th Festival Internacional de Cine Cartagena de Indias held in Colombia last March.
Last April 5, it had its Asian premiere at the 2018 Hong Kong International Film Festival, under the Masters and Auteurs Section.
Here is the official synopsis of Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil):
"In the late 1970s, a military-controlled militia is oppressing a remote village in the Philippine jungle. The uniformed men armed with machine guns are responsible for spreading a terror that is both physical and psychological in nature.
"They create an atmosphere in which neighbors become enemies and seek to eradicate the villagers’ faith in legends and spirits. Fearless young doctor Lorena opens a clinic for the poor, but disappears without a trace shortly afterwards.
"Her husband, the poet, activist and teacher Hugo Haniway, wants to find out the truth of his wife’s whereabouts. When he arrives, he is confronted with a community shattered by despotism and violence."