Lullaby of Diasporic Time: On Lav Diaz‟s A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery

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Lav Diaz is a Filipino independent filmmaker notable as a key figure in the contemporary slow cinema movement. Of his oeuvre, one of the longest is A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery (Filipino: Hele sa Higawang Hapis), a 2016 epic film that runs for 8 hours, orchestrating narratives derived from what are conveniently sung as mythology (i.e., Jose Rizal‘s El filibusterismo and Philippine folklore) and history (i.e., Philippine history and artifacts). The movie competed in the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize. This success has earned Diaz‘s the spotlight in the Filipino mainstream culture, enabling the film to be distributed to and showcased in mainstream platforms, albeit primarily garnering attention from the Filipino audience for its runtime and international attention. The movement of the film, as a text, from the local Philippines toward the international and returning home, incurs in it a textuality that disrupts the phenomenology of time diasporically, scatteringly: that as much as its 8-hour languor ―opens new perspective in the cinematic arts‖ according to the international rendition of this time, it is also the 8-hour whose value in the Philippine time is that of a day‘s labor, and thus the exoticization of its cinematic experience as a ―challenge,‖ having to endure an entire working day of slow cinematography. This diaspora of time is of no cacophony; on the contrary, it is the lullaby, sorrowful and mysterious, that finally slows Diaz in to become a filmmaker attuned to both the spaces of the local and the international.