|Emmanuel de la Cruz / Angeli Bayani|
An example of the refreshing documentaries from the 2010 workshop, this docu provides a penetrating glimpse into the making of Lav Diaz’s film Melancholia. Cool as the Amihan wind, the maverick filmmaker is seen shooting guerrilla style with a sparse crew in the mountains of Sagada. During a scene that has taken forever to complete, he calms down the actors by saying “Relax lang.”
Does he ever get angry? Rarely.
There was one time when he encountered a child actor who couldn't follow his instruction. Tasked to make a sad face, the boy dilly-dallied because he says he is basically a happy child. An irate Lav halted the shooting and packed up.
Emmanuel de la Cruz does a wonderful job of providing tidbits and insights about Maguindanao-born colleague, Lav Diaz. In just over a half hour, I’d learned a lot about his background and source of ideas. Lavrente Diaz, whose first name is of Russian origin, grew up in a home filled with books by Russian authors. The Dostoyevskian characters he relished in his youth will soon appear in various forms in most of his films.
The Diaz family was a victim of the vicious war in Maguindanao and
North Cotabato. A series of hamlettings forced family members to vacate their home and become refugees. The idea of being displaced is a major theme in his films. A crime from the past or pursuit of artistic endeavor or natural/political disasters will cause main characters to leave their homes or towns. The displaced and dispossessed characters then grapple with deep melancholia, chilly loneliness, and the search for redemption.
|Rebels on the run|
I remember a Melancholia scene wherein an Ifugao elder is clearly heard complaining about being filmed. There is nothing degrading in the shot having been merely a market crowd scene. But, the thought I had then was the tribesman must have been wishing for some payment. Sure enough, as seen in the documentary, a female local government employee is running after the filmmakers. She is asking for the group’s permit to shoot. A female member from Diaz’s group does the damage control. Meanwhile, Lav is nowhere in sight. He is probably holed up in a distant place and coolly relaxing away from it all.