The 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, as seen through the eyes of a group of young cultural activists who travelled to refugee camps to sing, host puppet shows, and interact with the people to inspire them to keep fighting. A deeply moving depiction of a nation in the throes of birth, fighting for its deliverance, having imagined itself into existence. Also an exploration of the role of cultural artistry in the midst of political warfare, even as the young singer ruminates on his worthlessness in being unable to fight directly alongside his brothers in arms.
A Brighter Summer Day was the first Taiwanese film I had ever seen and it had left me floored, back at a time when I was wholly ignorant of its history and culture. As I watched more and more Taiwanese cinema, this one film kept echoing and reverberating through my memory, somehow only growing in stature.
About six months later, I decided to finally put my thoughts in writing, and come to terms with how I feel about this…
Filmed over a span of 10 years, running over a period of 10 hours, illuminating the unseen face of a nation spread across its past, present and projected future, this is Evolution of a Filipino Family. This is Lav Diaz. This is cinema at its most potent, mined to its extremes and exploited like never before, fixing a hard gaze on the neglected and abused―the lowest strata of civilized society―like nothing has ever dared to.
Even if the film…