Swiss film award winner seeks audience for epic

The Philippine director of an international award-winning movie returned home Monday to presidential accolades and the challenge of finding an audience for his five-hour epic.

Swiss film award winner seeks audience for epic
Golden Leopard winner Lav Diaz. Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Lav Diaz, whose movie "From What Is Before" scooped the coveted Golden Leopard prize at the prestigious Locarno film festival in Switzerland at the weekend, said his victory was a boost for Philippine cinema.
"It's good for the Filipino people. It's good for Filipino cinema. Our work is on par with other cinemas of the world," he told AFP hours after returning.
Diaz, 55, whose black-and-white film recounts the strange events that befall an isolated village in the Philippines in 1972 during the era of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, won the festival's top prize while his lead actress Hazel Orencio won best actress.
Diaz said in the coming days he would be looking for venues to show the movie in its entirety and to distribute it both locally and abroad.
"That is the struggle of (non-commercial) cinema," he said, remarking that Hollywood had conditioned people to expect that movies should only be about two hours long.
But he said this was a misconception, adding that at Locarno, his movie was screened to a full-house thrice with the audience staying to the end.
"They didn't want the film to end," he laughed.
President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma congratulated Diaz and Orenico, saying "once again, we have shown to the world that the Filipinos are undeniably talented".

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Berlinale to host outdoor festival for film fans in June

Organisers of the Berlin film festival said Monday that pandemic conditions in the German capital had improved enough for them to hold a planned outdoor edition in June.

Berlinale to host outdoor festival for film fans in June
An empty area outside the Berlinale Palast in March 2020. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

The coronavirus outbreak forced the Berlinale, one of Europe’s top cinema showcases, to push back its usual February event and split it into two parts.

It held an all-online edition for critics and industry buyers in March and will now press on with an exclusively outdoor festival for the general public June 9th-20th.

“The Berlinale is pleased to be able to give audiences the enjoyment of an open-air cinema experience at 16 venues in total at the Summer Special,” it said in a statement.

It said Berlin’s falling infection rate “as well as positive signals by government offices” had led to the decision.

“Audiences will be getting a very special, collective festival experience – something we’ve all been missing for such a long time,” organisers said.

The June edition “is geared towards re-igniting the desire to go to the cinema, and to contributing to the revival of cultural activities with an audience”.

READ ALSO: Germany holds virtual Berlinale film fest

The programme will be made up primarily of movies shown online at the March edition, including the winners of its Golden and Silver Bear prizes, which will be awarded at a gala ceremony on June 13th.

Existing open-air cinemas throughout the city as well as a specially created site on Berlin’s historic Museum Island will serve as venues and comply with pandemic hygiene rules.

Ticket sales will begin on May 27th.

The global coronavirus outbreak has dealt a body blow to the cinema industry and created major complications for film distribution and production for over a year.

Cannes, the world’s top film festival, usually held in May, has been postponed to July 6-17 this year due to the pandemic and was cancelled outright last year.

The Berlinale, now in its 71st year, awarded its Golden Bear top prize in March to the biting social satire “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” by Romania’s Radu Jude.

The city of Berlin on Monday reported a seven-day coronavirus incidence just over the 100-mark, meaning cinemas, restaurants and other facilities remain closed.

However, officials are hopeful that an accelerating vaccination campaign and tightened lockdown measures will bring infections down soon, allowing for an at least partial reopening.