At their best, Lav Diaz’s films reveal just how much others leave out. Their protean beauty and moral complexities are matched only by their heroic running times: six hours is a common length, nine hours to be expected. They combine a devout belief in the power of bearing witness to the ebb and flow of quotidian moments with a poetic sense of historical time, the massive and warring abstract forces (governmental, societal, philosophical, spiritual) that conspire to shape daily life.

Diaz is the elder statesman of the New Philippine cinema and his films are haunted by his country’s past. The wounds and defeats of Filipino history loom large in his work, and their broad canvases accommodate both the irreducibility of individual experience and the sweep of time and space. Few, if any, filmmakers have so powerfully shown that cinema is, to quote Andrei Tarkovsky, “sculpting in time.”

As Diaz himself has said, “I would go to any extent in my art to fathom the mystery of humankind’s existence. I want to understand death. I want to understand solitude. I want to understand struggle. I want to understand the philosophy of a growing flower in the middle of a swamp.”

The Film Society is proud to present the most complete American retrospective to date of this major, criminally underseen filmmaker.