MANILA -- Followers of world-acclaimed master filmmaker Lav Diaz who are wondering when his latest opus "Ang Hupa" will have its Philippine premiere would have to troop to the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 2.
"Ang Hupa" or "The Halt" will be the opening film for the 15th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, as announced on July 9, Tuesday, by festival director and CCP's vice president and artistic director Chris Millado.
"Ang Hupa" had its world premiere on May 22 this year at Theatre Palais Crosette in Cannes, France, as part of the Directors' Fortnight, an independent, non-competitive section organized by the French Directors Guild running parallel with the Cannes Film Festival.
Running for four hours and 39 minutes, the film is topbilled by Kapamilya stars Piolo Pascual and Shaina Magdayao, veteran director-actor Joel Lamangan, indie film actress Hazel Orencio, Star Magic's prized talent Mara Lopez, and veteran theater-film-TV actors Joel Saracho, Pinky Amador and Bart Guingona.
As decribed in the Directors Fortnight website, "Ang Hupa" is set in the year 2034 AD. "Southeast Asia has been in the dark for the last three years, literally, because the sun hasn’t shone as a result of massive volcanic eruptions at the Celebes Sea in 2031. Madmen control countries, communities, enclaves and bubble cities. Cataclysmic epidemics razed over the continent. Millions have died and millions have left."
Since its Cannes debut, there hasn't been any announcement of its Philippine premiere.
In an earlier interview, Pascual and Magdayao told ABS-CBN News of their experiences in making the film and their views after seeing it.
It's not the first time the two acted for Diaz. Both were part of last year's acclaimed musical film, "Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil)".
Like Diaz's previous works, "Ang Hupa" earned positive reviews after its world premiere in Cannes.
Clarence Tsui of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Ang Hupa (The Halt) ranks as Diaz's most straightforward and politically charged film to date, with his script spelling out everything he wanted to say in the clearest of terms."
Jonathan Romny of the movie website Screendaily described it as having shades of "Alphaville" by legendary French new wave master Jean Luc Godard as it "effectively builds on present-day conditions in the Philippines by adding a couple of incongruous touches to turn the familiar world into a future dystopia."
Comparing it to Lav's other acclaimed films, Romny wrote: "Narratively expansive as ever, 'The Halt' doesn’t use its running time of 276 minutes (making it medium-length by Diaz’s standards) as economically as, say, the director’s 2013 Dostoevsky-inspired 'Norte, the End of History', but it is considerably more cogent than his last feature, the awkwardly Brechtian ‘musical’ 'Season of the Devil'."
Monica Delgado of Desistfilm website said: "'Ang Hupa' is a tale about the recovery of historical memory, concentrated like a metaphor in the character of the solitary young woman who is in constant mourning (played by Shaina Magdayao) who will contain all the symbolic weight of this silence.
"It is a completely political film, in its way of making a caricature of the dictatorships and dormant societies, but also because it poses a way out, in the opportunity of recovering lost time by the new generations..."
Diaz's films have been part of Cinemalaya. Almost all of his works have been shown in the previous years, the most recent of which was "Season of the Devil."
Millado told ABS-CBN News that just like in the past 14 years, the opening film will be shown free to the public. But since "Ang Hupa" runs for more than four hours, the start of screening time will be earlier than usual.
Though there's no announcement yet from Diaz, Pascual, Magdayao and the other stars, Millado is 100 percent positive they will attend the much-awaited opening night as Cinemalaya celebrates its 15th year.
The festival runs until August 13 in select cinemas nationwide.