LOOK: John Lloyd Cruz Meets Meryl Streep For Award-Winning Film ‘Hele’

Despite having funding problems for the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, Lav Diaz’s Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery) made it to the Berlinale and won the Alfred Bauer Prize, a recognition given to films that opens new perspectives.

The Berlinale is one of the top three film festivals, along with Cannes and Venice. This year’s Berlinale invited Meryl Streep as the jury president.

Hele is a 482 minute film (eight hours and two minutes) 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).

The Lav Diaz opus stars John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Cherie Gil, Angel Aquino, Alessandra de Rossi, and Susan Africa. The film is produced by Paul Soriano.

At the awards, Cruz and his co-stars and production team got to meet Streep and Clive Owen, a jury member.

Despite the length of the film, critics gave Hele rave reviews. Taiwanese film critic Yun-hua Chen said that “the film really needed to be this long so the audience can submerge in the story,” while German film critic Hubert Speich called it “superb.” Inquirer.net reported that at the end of the two-part screening, more than half the audience was still present and there was applause and shouts of “bravo.”

Diaz is notorious for the length of his works, averaging six to nine hours. His longest was 2004’s Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino,which spanned almost 10 hours. But his works have have been recognized in the Venice Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival. His film 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.

There is no release date of the film in the Philippines.

Watch the trailer of Hele below:

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