Filipino auteur Lav Diaz, a filmmaker known for a freeform approach that has his features lasting up to 11 hours or more, has developed a following among cinephiles in Thailand, thanks to programs curated over the years by the Thai Short Film and Video Festival and Filmvirus.
In fact, it was at the 2007 Digital Forum started that year by the Thai Short Film and Video Festival, where I saw my first Diaz film, Heremias, which blew my mind and hooked me instantly.
Now, thanks to that freedom-embracing "video" portion of the Thai Short Film and Video Fest, one of Diaz' latest efforts will come to Bangkok, the four-hour Norte, the End of History (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan), screening just one time only, at 6pm on Monday, September 1, at the Lido in Siam Square.
Now, as a viewer who's seen Lav Diaz films in all kinds of situations, usually while crashed out on the floor of a sweltering shophouse, I have to say that the idea of watching one of his films in a proper cinema like the Lido is pretty special.
Screening in the main competition at Cannes last year, Norte also won the best director award at Cinemanila. It even received a limited U.S. run and made many year-end critics' lists.
Here's the plot:
The lives of three people take a turn when one of them commits a crime.
Joaquin (Archie Alemania) is failing miserably at providing for his family when his money lender gets murdered. The crime is pinned on him. Misery and solitude would
transform him in prison.
Left to fend for the family, his wife Eliza (Angeli Bayani) pours all of her strength to battling with despair and eking out a living for their children.
The real perpetrator, Fabian (Sid Lucero), roams free. His disillusionment with his country—its history of revolutions marred by betrayal and crimes unpunished—drives him to the edge of sanity, of humanity.
Norte producer Moira Lang will be among the festival guests, and she comes to Bangkok just after Diaz won the Golden Leopard in Locarno for another film, From What is Before (Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon), which I hope makes it to Bangkok eventually.
The 18th Thai Short Film and Video Festival opens on Thursday, August 28 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center with Cambodia 2099, a new short by young French-Cambodian director Davy Chou (Golden Slumbers). It is part of a new program this year called "French Connection", which gathers many excellent French live-action and animated shorts.
There will also be a chance to see Letters from the South, the omnibus on Chinese communities in Southeast Asia by Thailand's Aditya Assarat, Singapore's Royston Tan and Sun Koh, Myanmar's Midi Zhao and Malaysia's Tan Chui Mui and Tsai Ming-liang.
More views from across the region can be seen in the S-Express program curated by film experts from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.
And, in celebration of the Film Archive's 30th anniversary, there will be a special program from the Archive's collection as well as the annual Queer shorts collection of Thai and foreign films.
As always, the centerpiece of the Thai Short Film and Video Festival is the competition among Thai indie filmmakers for the top-prize RD Pestonji Award, named in honor of the country's pioneering auteur, along with documentaries, animated shorts and student films vying for other awards.
I've embedded the trailer for Norte below. Color, hmm? That's a different look for Lav.