Make Lav Diaz’s 8-Hour Arthouse Epic ‘Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis’ Your Independence Day-Weekend Viewing

When it was released commercially in 2016 under mainstream distributor, Star Cinema, Lav Diaz’s film Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, with an international title, A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, gave birth to a social media challenge, compelling local viewers to sit through the auteur’s eight-hour art film in cinemas. This came a month after its award-winning run at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.

Four years after its release, on Independence Day, with the country’s democracy in peril, revisiting the film’s rich tapestry of interconnected narratives on the Philippine revolution is as important as it is relevant now, more than ever. Earlier this week, one of the film’s producers, Ten17p has announced that all eight hours of the film will be available for streaming for free on YouTube until June 14, 2020.

Piolo Pascual. Production still from Ten17p Facebook

Written and directed by Diaz, the film showcases vignettes from characters found in Philippine revolution from the inception and the journey of the ballad “Jocelynang Baliwag” into becoming the hymn of the revolution, Gregoria de Jesus’ search for the body of husband, and Father of Philippine revolution, Andres Bonifacio, interwoven with fictional characters from Jose Rizal’s Simoun and Isagani, down to mythical tales of the tikbalang/engkanto, and the strength of Bernardo Carpio to unravel an elevated discourse of the Filipino psyche.

The film stars top actors in mainstream and independent cinema from John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual, Alessandra De Rossi, Susan Africa, Hazel Orencio, Cherie Gil, and Angel Aquino.

The auteur has since been a known proponent of the “slow cinema” movement that ultimately defies mainstream cinema conventions in terms of storytelling, length, and cinematic techniques–from its pace, and camera movements. His portfolio of films has gained international esteem, with the release of the 2013 film Norte, the End of History (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan) at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

His body of work then continued to earn critical success and attention with his Golden Leopard win at the Locarno International Film Festival for From What Is Before (Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon) in 2014. After taking home the Alfred Bauer Prize for Hele, he also bagged the Golden Lion at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival for The Woman Who Left (Ang Babaeng Humayo). His most recent opus, Season of the Devil, competed at the 68th Berlin International Film Festival, while taking home the Best Film (Gems Section) at the Cartagena Film Festival.

Still from Ten17p YouTube

Stream Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis on Ten17p’s official YouTube channel while you can HERE.