Lav Diaz has established himself for making deeply thought-provoking films that are notorious for their length. His films average six to nine hours, with 2004’s Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino spanning almost 10 hours.
But the length of his films are worth watching as they are consistently awarded in international film festivals around the world. In 2014, Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan was screened at the Un Certain Regard section of 2013 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the Philippines’ entry to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 87th Academy Awards.
Given his credentials, it was surprising that entertainment’s most bankable stars chose to work with the cinematic legend. Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz have signed up for Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, a mystery that marries literature (including the missing chapters of Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo), mythology (tikbalangs or half-man half-horse creatures), and history (Ka Oryang’s 30-day search for the lost body of her husband Andres Bonifacio). Now, they need help to get the film to the Berlin International Film Festival, one of the Big Three, along with Venice and Cannes.
The Hele team needs an additional P1.2 million for airfare, accommodation, German translation and subtitling, DCP with hardcoded German subtitles and promotional materials.
The Berlinale will cover some of the expenses for accommodation, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) has offered support, but they need more. The festival will be held on February 11 to 21.
Actress Hazel Orencio told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they contacted Berlin-based Filipinos, who have offered accommodations. Producer Bianca Balbuena said they hope to bring at least 12 members of the team there.
Balbuena further says that Hele “is the only entry from the Philippines this year and we are in the main competition no less.”
Hele is nominated for the Golden Bear, the highest prize of the competition. The film will compete against films starring Emma Thompson, Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, and Jude Law. The jury president is actress Meryl Streep.
Hele will run for 482 minutes (eight hours and two minutes), and will be screened in two four-hour installments.
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