Venice 2016 – Competition
Venice 2016 – Winner – Golden Lion
Horacia has spent the last 30 years in a women's correctional facility. A former elementary school teacher, she leads a quiet existence helping others practice reading and writing. When another inmate confesses to the original crime, Horacia is immediately released and seeks out her estranged family. She confesses everything to her daughter Minerva: ex- boyfriend Rodrigo Trinidad framed Horacia because she had left him for another man. Still overwhelmed by her new freedom, Horacia begs Minerva to keep her release a secret. While continuing her search for missing son Junior, Horacia begins to spy on Rodrigo with the help of desperate locals: a poor balut streetseller, homeless woman Mameng, and epileptic transvestite Hollanda. They all give her the information she needs about Rodrigo's everyday movements. Horacia begins to realize that the outside world - the Phillipines of the late 90s - is terrorized by corruption and rampant kidnappings. Her generous personality becomes tainted by feelings of revenge...
From the award-winning director of A LULLABY TO THE SORROWFUL MYSTERY, MELANCHOLIA and FROM WHAT IS BEFORE.
John Lloyd Cruz
Its personal and political concerns converge powerfully in the story of one woman, reacquainting herself with her socially ravaged homeland after unjustly spending 30 years in the slammer. At the same time, the film’s deliberately rambling heft evokes the lingering, far-reaching sorrow of an entire nation... emotionally resonant, intellectually satisfying experience all round... Charo Santos-Cancio, in a remarkable return to the screen after two decades... Diaz fashions a thoughtful, far from idealistic meditation on the complex nature of forgiveness and shifting moral accountability — with the government, shown demolishing makeshift communities while letting others fester in poverty and fear, its most consistent antagonist.
— Guy Lodge, VARIETY
A wholly absorbing four-hour opus about a wrongly convicted prisoner who’s released after 30 years. It opens in 1997, shortly before the prisoner, Horacia (a great Charo Santos-Concio), is liberated into an almost unrecognizable world. Shot in stark, black-and-white digital video in humble, sometimes impoverished locales, the story opens and closes like an accordion, alternately bringing you into Horacia’s private reveries and thrusting you out into the larger, often alien milieu. Dickensian in scope, this is a great achievement from an exemplar of the art.
— Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
On the shorter side by Diaz’s standards. But it’s a terrific encapsulation of the way the filmmaker uses time to create a deeply involving environment for his characters to explore... The story is at once powerfully immediate in its dark portrait of a world without a center and oddly uplifting in its depiction of Horacio’s attempts to find her place in it... a unique narrative experience.
— Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE
An immensely immersive and engaging tale about a wronged individual's grueling struggle between reconciliation and revenge. Featuring Diaz's immaculate imagery — in high-contrast black and white, as usual — and a majestic performance from Charo Santos... A taut exercise in which every shot burns with condensed emotions and human empathy, whether in the riveting depiction of the characters' quotidian existence throughout, or the heartbreaking shots of Manila's gloomy cityscape which makes up the final minutes of the film.
— Clarence Tsui, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER