From What Is Before. 2014. Philippines. Directed by Lav Diaz. With Perry Dizon, Hazel Orencio, Karenina Haniel, Roeder, Reynan Abcede. In Filipino; English subtitles. 338 min.
Strange happenings in a remote seaside community—huts are mysteriously set on fire, cows are hacked to death, a man with a bite on his neck dies at a crossroads, wailing is heard in the forest—leads someone to declare, “These are cursed times.” The villagers are devout Catholics, but they also turn to shamans, supernatural healers, tree spirits, and mystical objects for protection. Yet of all the things to fear, it is the arrival of the military and the proclamation of martial law that bring true horror to the land, and ultimately there is no protection. Director Lav Diaz painstakingly sculpts this black-and-white saga to bear witness to history, existence, love, pain, and crime. The film won five awards at the Locarno International Film Festival, including the Golden Leopard for Best Film. Note: this film is screened without an intermission at the request of the filmmaker.