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Rock opera movie made to provoke new way of looking at history, mythology

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Lav Diaz’s rock opera opus “Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw(Season Of The Devil)” is a short film by his standards – oh, just four hours.

Lav Diaz (rightmost) with Piolo Pascual and Shaina Magdayao (mb.com.ph)

Lav Diaz (rightmost) with Piolo Pascual and Shaina Magdayao

Still, the cast members of the movie say this work by the veteran independent filmmaker – known as one of the key members of the slow cinema movement – has enough running time to offer important lessons to the viewers.

“Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw (Season Of The Devil)” is about poet Hugo Haniway (played by Piolo Pascual) in search of his wife Lorena (Shaina Magdayao) who goes missing after journeying to bring medical aid to a town plagued by a two-faced devil.

According to Bart Guingona, the movie will make the audience reassess history in the context of the current state of the country.
“We don’t seem to have learned from our history,” he claimed. “So it takes a little bravery and a little chutzpah for us to actually go up and say we are doing this (kind of movie).”

He believes that it is the duty of artist to provoke or pitch “reality” to viewers and he thinks the topic being tackled in the movie is something that needs to be said.

It sounds so heavy, we noted. How do they hope the viewers to digest the message of the film? Well, just sit back and be open-minded, he said.

“Everything is thrown at you anyway,” he said. “The beauty of uncompromising art is that first and foremost, (it is at the) service of the truth.”

Asked to comment on the length of the film and Lav’s other works, Bart thinks it’s because the award-winning director might be doing so purposely because he “requires equal commitment from the audience;” to be as involved in it as he who created it.

“Entertainment need not be mindless and unprovocative,” he said.

The actor then cited the game of chess as example. That while it requires your commitment to follow closely every move made by both players, it is still entertaining. “So (’yung ganitong klaseng commitment na kailangan), pinabubuka niya ’yung inyong kaisipin sa kung ano ’yung tunay na entertainment,” he said.

“Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw (Season Of The Devil)” uses symbolisms. In the movie, Bituin Escalante plays Kwentista, Joel Saracho is the Ahas, and Pinky Amador is Aling Sinta or Kwago. The Poet not only searches for his missing wife in the village oppressed by a Janus-faced devil, but the Kwentista laments the tragedies that befall its people. The Ahas schemes with the scoundrel militia and the widowed Kwago bewails her loved ones’ deaths.

Other members of the cast are Hazel Orencio, Lilit Reyes, DMs Boongaling, Bradley Liew, Noel Sto. Domingo, Ian Lomongo, Angel Aquino, among others.

What if

Aside from history and mythology, the movie tries to show the danger of authoritarianism.

Won’t people take it the wrong way?

“Whether people take it well or in a wrong way hindi na po ’yun up to us. But as artists, we create every opportunity to tell a thoughtful story so hindi na namin isiipin ’yung repercussions or rewards,” Bituin said lightly.

Moving into lighter talk, Pinky said she didn’t have a hard time playing her role especially with Lav’s directorial style.

“May isang eksena du’n na sinabihan lang ako ni Direk ng ‘I want to have a close up of you looking out into the bayan ng ginto,’” she recalled. So wala naman siyang binigay na instruction pero insiip ko bilang ’yung character ko na titingnan ko ’yung bayan at talagang naiyak lang talaga ako du’n kasi parang nakikita ko ’yung bayan – it’s very hard to not to feel anything.

(Clockwise): Piolo Pascual as Hugo, Shaina Magdayao as Lorena, Angel Aquino as Anghelita, Pinky Amador as Aling Sinta/Kwago, Bituin Escalante as Kwentista, A scene from ‘Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw (Season Of The Devil)’, Bart Guingona as Paham, Joel Saracho as Ahas, and Hazel Orencio as Tenyente. (Photos from ‘Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw’ official Facebook account) /mb.com.ph

(Clockwise): Piolo Pascual as Hugo, Shaina Magdayao as Lorena, Angel Aquino as Anghelita, Pinky Amador as Aling Sinta/Kwago, Bituin Escalante as Kwentista, A scene from ‘Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw (Season Of The Devil)’, Bart Guingona as Paham, Joel Saracho as Ahas, and Hazel Orencio as Tenyente. (Photos from ‘Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw’ official Facebook account)

“I’ve said this before: Talagang nabubuhay tayo sa panahon ng halimaw kaya hindi mahirap artihin kasi ang daming pwedeng pag hugutan sa panahon ngayon.”

Prior to the film being screened at select Ayala malls today, “Ang Panahon Ng Halimaw (Season Of The Devil),” presented by Globe Studios, Epicmedia Productions Inc, Sine Olivia Pilipinas, has already made the rounds in different international film festivals.

In fact, it won Best Film in the Gems section of the 58th Festival Internacional de Cine Cartagena de Indias in Colombia held March 2018. It was also selected to compete for the Golden Bear in the main competition section of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival.

The movie has received numerous positive feedback from film critics as Clarence Tsuiof The Hollywood Reporter, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, Jonathan Romney of Screen Daily, and writer Aldo Padilla, to name a few.

The film is made possible through “#PlayItRight,” Globe Telecom’s continuing advocacy campaign in support of the entertainment industry by encouraging Filipinos to enjoy entertainment through legitimate means such as cinemas and legal streaming apps. The initiative encourages audiences to enjoy entertainment only through legitimate means, protecting the rights of the filmmakers, actors, and the crew who have dedicated their time and talent in making their movie projects.

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