We are excited to be now showing the most recent Golden Leopard Winner at the Locarno Film Festival, Lav Diaz's From What Is Before.
Writing from Locarno last summer, Adam Cook describes the film as "an extraordinary way to begin a film festival":
"Beginning free of dialogue, the early parts of the film are defined by the landscapes of its Filipino countryside setting. Traversing these landscapes are figures that will become characters over the next few hours, as detail by detail is slowly divulged as the film gracefully, surprisingly unfolds."
Lav Diaz was kind enough to answer a few questions we sent him.
MUBI: What film for you is unforgettable?
LAV DIAZ: There are many. But early on, two films emancipated me, the way I look at cinema, extending to the way I look at life. These are Manila, In the Claws of Neon, by Lino Brocka, when I was still younger, and Mirror, by Andrei Tarkovsky, when I was already deep into doing cinema.
MUBI: What one person from cinema's history would you want to work with and why?
DIAZ: Andrei Tarkovsky. I admire the guy, his works, his thoughts, the way he lived.
MUBI: We know the challenge and the pleasure of watching your long movies—but what is it you find challenging and pleasing to make long films?
DIAZ: Just the thought doing a film outside of the convention can make such a task daunting. I’m talking of the risk involved. Early on, when I did commit to pursue my cinema on my terms, people, even friends, were emphatically pointing their fingers six feet below the ground, dead on arrival. They called it career suicide. I did it anyway. And I’m still doing it, their skepticism be damned. My commitment is to cinema and culture, never to a career in the movies. There’s not much difference between challenge and pleasure really. Pursuing your own vision is a challenge and a pleasure. The synthesis is aesthetic orgasm. The true measure is the awareness you put your life on the line.
For La Furia Umana, Notebook contributor Michael Guarneri interviewed Lav Diaz about From What Is Before. Our editor Daniel Kasman interviewed the director in Cannes 2013 about his last feature, Norte, the End of History.
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