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Lav Diaz’s Golden moment

The director's epic win is just one in a long line of epic wins

After winning the Silver Bear (Alfred Bauer Prize) at the 66th Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin for his eight-hour opus Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery), art house filmmaker Lav Diaz won the top prize, the Golden Lion (Leone d’Oro  per il miglior film), for the B&W revenge tale Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left), at the recent Mostra Internationale d’Arte Cinematografica della Biennale di Venezia.

“This is for my country, the Filipino people; for our struggles and the struggle of humanity,” said Diaz in his acceptance speech.

Ang Babaeng Humayo is about a woman (Charo Santos-Concio) released from prison 30 years after being framed and wrongfully convicted and who plans to take revenge on her former lover. Like Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, the movie is also shot in black and-white. The four-hour film marks Santos-Concio’s return to the big screen after a 20-year hiatus.

LAV ON TOP Lav Diaz holds the Golden Lion award for Ang Babaeng Humayo at the awarding ceremony of the 73rd annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy. (EPA/M.ANGELES SALVADOR)

LAV ON TOP Lav Diaz holds the Golden Lion award for Ang Babaeng Humayo at the awarding ceremony of the 73rd annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy. (EPA/M.ANGELES SALVADOR)

“I’m so proud,” Santos-Concio told ABS-CBN News. “I’m very happy for Lav Diaz—he really deserves this. When we were planning the film back in March, we told each other we were just going to have fun. This really is a most unforgettable moment.”

In 1976, Santos-Concio won Asia’s Best Actress for her role in Mike de Leon’s film Itim (The Rites of May).

The screenplay for Ang Babaeng Humayo was also penned by Diaz as an adaptation to Leo Tolstoy’s short story God Sees the Truth, But Waits.

A spokesperson for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in a statement: “This triumph of Lav Diaz is the latest addition to the Philippines’ biggest ever haul of awards in this year’s A-list film festivals—Berlinale, Cannes, and now Venice. The luster of the world-class Filipino talent has continuously shone.”

After Diaz’s triumph, Allen Dizon also won as Best Actor for his role in Mel Chionglo’s Iadya Mo Kami at the 13th Salento International Film Festival in Tricase, also in Italy. Dizon’s victory follows that of Jacklyn Jose (Ma’ Rosa, Cannes), John Lloyd Cruz (Honor Thy Father, New York Asia Film Festival), and Sid Lucero (Toto, Los Angeles Comedy Festival),

The other winners in the Venice Film Festival were Tom Ford’s thriller Nocturnal Animals (Grand Jury Prize), film directors Andre Konchalovsky (Paradise, Russia) and Amat Escalante (The Untamed, Mexico) who tied for Best Director (Silver Lion), Argentine thespian Oscar Martinez (The Distinguished Citizen, Best Actor), and American actress Emma Stone (La La Land, Best Actress).

The festival jury was led by British filmmaker Sam Mendes, who chose the winner from 20 film entrants competing at the 73rd edition of the annual festival.

Diaz’s triumph in the international film circuit began in 2014 when he won the Pardo d’Oro (Golden Leopard) at the 67th Festival Internazionale del Film di Locarno with his entry Mula Sa Kung Ano ang Noon (From What Was Before).

Ang Babaeng Humayo is one of nine Filipino films considered by the Film Academy of the Philippines as contender to the forthcoming Oscars Foreign Language Film race. The eight other noteworthy works are Roderick Cabrido’s Tuos, Gil Portes’ Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli, Eduardo Roy Jr.’s Pamilya Ordinaryo, Paul Soriano’s Dukot, Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father, Joel Lamangan’s Felix Manalo, Brillante Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa, and Lav Diaz’s Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis.