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From What is Before

Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon

Directed by Lav Diaz
Philippines, 2014
Drama
  • Tagalog
  • English
It's About Time: The Cinema of Lav Diaz

Synopsis

The Philippines, 1972. Mysterious things are happening in a remote barrio. Wails are heard from the forest, cows are hacked to death, a man is found bleeding to death at the crossroad and houses are burned.

Our take

Lav’s Golden Leopard winner in Locarno is an epic remembrance of a period of transition that marked the traumatic time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ rule. The film’s structure unfurls with slow power, growing increasingly complex, political, and emotional over its five-and-a-half hour story.

From What is Before Directed by Lav Diaz
What Diaz is attempting here is a complicated mixture of nostalgia and distance: the black-and-white cinematography delineates an idea of past-ness even as the focus on simple, even banal interactions works against any sense of historical embellishment. The trick is that Diaz doesn’t idealise the modest, agrarian lifestyle on display so much as insist on its authenticity – this is how people lived in the Philippines, not so long ago.
May 12, 2015
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Diaz’s mise en scène and temporal strategies must be theorized as weapons in the struggle for the emancipation of his people. Utopic as it may sound, in From What Is Before as in all his other independently-produced works, Diaz has been trying to destroy time as a commodity and as an instrument of control, thus reclaiming Filipino people’s ancestral Malay identity.
October 17, 2014
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In terms of the competition awards winners, a well-deserved Golden Leopard (Pardo d’ore) went to Lav Diaz’s From What Is Before (Mula sa kung ano ang noon), a visually stunning, emotionally arresting, politically pointed five-hour-and-forty-minute exploration of rural life and its decline in early 1970s Philippines.
October 06, 2014
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