Verdict: Essential Viewing

Pinoy Rebyu Score: 4.70 (5 ratings)

Genre: Drama, Experimental

Writer/Director: Lav Diaz

Cast: Angel Aquino, Joel Torre, Perry Dizon, Hazel Orencio, Angeli Bayani, Roeder Camañag, Dante Perez

Alternative title: Century of Birthing

Synopsis: Telling two seemingly unrelated tales, it is a grand meditation on the roles of the artist, the prophet and the acolyte. The first story focuses on Homer, a filmmaker who has spent years working on his latest opus — and still isn’t happy with it. Hounded by friends, co-workers and festival programmers to finish the damn thing, he resists every entreaty, countering a programmer’s pleas to send him the film with, “I don’t make films for festivals, I make them for cinema.”

The second story concentrates on a Christian cult in a rural region — a group largely comprised of young women (referred to as “virgins”) and dominated by its charismatic leader, Father Turbico. When one of the longest-standing members strays, the impact is catastrophic for both her and the cult. (From Toronto International Filmfest catalog)

Running time: 360 mins.

Press Conference: 

Capsule Reviews:

5.0          Adrian Mendizabal (Film blogger, Auditoire)

“In a period of 6 hours, Lav Diaz gives us an unrelenting epic view of cinema from its conception to its birth. To give birth to a new cinema, one has to break old traditions, ‘the cult’ which has deluded the minds of its followers with ‘closed view’ of the world. One has to ‘rape’ these monolithic traditions and impregnate it with THE TRUTH and REALITY about the world in order for a new cinema to begin.

The film centers on Homer, a filmmaker having a developmental crisis with his film Babae ng Hangin. He encounters basic questions from this struggle in making his film. Questions like ‘What is Cinema?’, ‘What is the role of an artist, of a filmmaker?’ reverberated throughout the film as if it was Lav Diaz speaking to us. Through these questions we reflect as viewers what cinema is all about. The downfall of the virgin and her giving birth to a child is the ‘birthing’ of new cinema itself. Homer, being the only witness to this, finally resolves within him the questions that bothers him in a long time. We’re never sure of what answers we might get, but surely Homer was happy about it. Move over, Tree of Life, this is my TOP FILM of the YEAR SO FAR!”

5.0          Skilty Labastilla (Member, Young Critics Circle – Film Desk)

“Disturbing, magisterial, epic. Siglo ng Pagluluwal only solidifies Lav Diaz’s status as the godfather of Philippine New Wave Cinema. With this film, he’s saying, ‘Kids, this is how you do it.’”

5.0          Epoy Deyto (Film blogger, Kawts Kamote)

“Lav Diaz’s viewpoint on cinema’s current state. Cinema is confused on where it should place itself, especially during these times of ideological war between extreme-fundamentalists and post-structuralists. After some short talk with (filmmaker) Jet Leyco, I realized it was an autobiographical work spanning from his early film-making days to the present, making my empathy for it to become stronger. It was all his dilemmas, his problems, his delusions, his hopes, his love.”

5.0          Ian Urrutia (Film blogger, Pinoy Cinema Tumblr)

“For what it’s worth, Century of Birthing is a breath-taking meditation on cinema and the philosophy behind it. It’s obviously a filmmaker’s film about film, an attempt to provide a grounded dissection on the true meaning of cinema and why in all those progressive years, it refuses to be defined.”

3.5           Lyndon Maburaot (Table Stretcher)

“The film’s finest moments are when Diaz doesn’t force his point across, when he lets the filmmaker (Perry Dizon) and his friend (Angeli Agbayani) be, meeting in unadorned places – by a convenience store, at the corner, at the park – and share each daily happenings like normal friends do.” (Read full review)