BERLIN, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 24, 2016 – In 2014, the five-and-a-half-hour epic “Mula Sa Kung Ano Ang Noon” (From What Is Before), a film helmed by multi-awarded Filipino director Lav Diaz about what happened to an isolated village when brutal militias roamed the countryside during the Marcos dictatorship, won the much coveted Golden Leopard prize at the Locarno International Film Festival in Switzerland.
When the ragtag team of Diaz returned home in the Philippines after winning the biggest honor for the country in an A-list festival, there was no hero’s welcome or festive parade to greet them: the team either took a taxi or rode the bus on the way home.
This lack of national appreciation did not deter Diaz from embarking on another project, this time directing, writing and editing an 8-hour film that starred powerhouse Filipino celebrities like John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Cherie Gil, Angel Aquino, Alessandra De Rossi, Hazel Orencio, Susan Africa, Bernardo Bernardo, and Joel Saracho. Entitled, “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery), the film was entered in the 66th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) this year. It just won the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, in memory of the festival head, “for opening new perspectives on cinematic art.”
Diaz dedicated his win to other film directors who believe that cinema can change the world.
“It is ironic that Lav Diaz is a rock star here in Europe, has won many awards for the Philippines, yet many Filipinos still do not know him, and even more sadly, are unaware of the power of his art, his medium and his message. Our role in ABS-CBN TFC is to shine the spotlight on the Filipino talent or genius around the world. We want everyone to know the artistry, creativity, and mastery of our directors like Lav Diaz, writers, actors – in this case, ABS-CBN TFC’s very own Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz and the whole Filipino cast – and other cultural heroes. This is ‘galing ng Filipino’, true Pinoy talent, at its world-class best. We celebrate this milestone victory of Lav and his entire team. We celebrate the Filipino triumphant talent and spirit here in Berlinale,” said ABS-CBN Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Managing Director Kai V. Rodriguez.
No less than legendary actress Meryl Streep headed the jury that selected the winners. “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery) was the longest entry in said festival. The film provided a one-hour lunch break for the audience who came from all over the world. Loud cheers and a standing ovation greeted it after the screening, which started at 9:30am, ended at 7:00pm.
Set in the 19th century at the period of Philippine revolution against Spanish rule, “Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” (A Lullaby for the Sorrowful Mystery) focuses on the influence of Andres Bonifacio y de Castro and follows the lives of several groups of people, including Castro’s wife who is searching for his body on a mountain that is inhabited by people from the spirit world.
The film was produced by Ten17P, Epicmedia and Sine Olivia Pilipinas. Executive producer is Paul Soriano, an award-winning director himself, who also shares producer’s credit with Bianca Balbuena.