After the screening of his Venice Festival winning film The Woman Who Left, Lav Diaz held a workshop with students and Festival guests.
The director from the Philippines opened with an explanation about how his films examine the object of struggle. According to him, a tendency to last long, one of the more prominent traits of his films stems from the need to find the best way to unite space and time. This approach also helps the author to integrate the Filipino and Malayan way of living, characteristics of the cultural code, and lifestyle which is tightly connected to the concept of waiting.
Diaz points out he is inspired by great novelists such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, which explains why watching his films compares to the feeling of going through a great novel. The director believes in the power of storytelling and narrative, since every human life is made out of narrative. According to his words: “narrative is not just the beginning, the middle and the end. Each image is a story in itself.”
Diaz’s films are also about the Filipino people, because he believes that every story is a story about history. “An artist is not just an artist, he is a cultural worker.”
He stressed that he is very careful when choosing an era, as he tries to identify those moments in history which are contradictory and crucial.
The director uses locations which are a template for the universe he wants to create, he avoids close-ups, the scenes are in real time, and the black-white image is his way of seeing the world. These are all tangible elements of the authors poetic. Diaz shot some of his films for only two months, others for ten years, always with low budgets and a small crew, because a large film crew and big budgets demand an exact filming schedule that cannot be altered. He points out that rehearsals are very important because of the long takes, adding that today it is possible to make films using any camera, even a mobile phone, and that we need to embrace the advantages of digital technology.
Talking about his filming methods, Diaz sad that he is both a screenwriter and cinematographer, but that “editing is the hardest process, because it is all about decisions.”
Diaz concluded that film is his faith, and advised young filmmakers that films should be made with what we have, always with the same aim – to tell the truth.