Faire face / To face up

International Conference Lav Diaz

HEAD – Genève 
Auditoire Boulevard James Fazy 15
1201 Genève

11-12 octobre 2019 
09h00 – 18h00 

Lav Diaz’s cinematic work is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture. It is infused with the political vicissitudes that the country suffers and is moulded by the consequences of the natural disasters that lay waste to the archipelago. His unusually long shots are bound with the fate of those who oppose the system, he marginals and others who are left on the sidelines. Bearing witness to resistance, building a collective memory, sharing waiting times and drawing cinematic tombs for the disappeared and the tortured, Lav Diaz’s tragic frescoes stand tall against silence, amnesia and repression. Underpinned by extreme state violence (martial law, extrajudicial executions, death squads), his films explicitly highlight tyranny and the ferociousness of history. The exploratory filmmaker’s long-lasting aesthetics transpose places of exile (remote forests, the outskirts of the city, spoiled land) into areas of life and suffering, daily landscapes where men reside, take shelter, withdraw and sometimes save themselves. With humanist rage, Lav Diaz confronts the political, ecological and ethical disaster, venturing to address what men do to other men. 

Organisation : 
Corinne Maury (Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès) 
Marcos Uzal 
Olivier Zuchuat (HEAD-Genève & Université de Paris 8)  

Avec le soutien de EDESTA & ESTCA – Université de Paris 8, PLH/ELH – Université de Toulouse, du Fond National Suisse de la Recherche (FNS) et  le concours de l’Institut de recherche en art et en design (IRAD) 

Contact organisation : 
Olivier Zuchuat
T + 33 6 87 73 75 34



Corinne Maury, Marcos Uzal, Olivier Zuchuat 

Session 1
Nature: from Communion to Devastation 
Moderator: Jennifer Verraes (Associate professor, University of Paris 8, France) 

9:30 – 10:15
Fabienne Costa (Professor, University of Grenoble, France)

“There is no there there 
Typhoons trigger changes in the landscape, invasions overthrow countries: “Here is not here anymore”, as we are brought to realise from Death in the Land of Encantos (2007) to A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery (2016). When our shared earth is devastated, suddenly men no longer know where they are or where they come from. They seek a foundation, a ground for themselves at all costs. Nothing is given anymore. You have to leave in search of the fleeting present. Something has to happen to bring back meaning and a horizon. The aim here will be to monitor the tensions of what has happened, to collect the signs of a continuous rescue mission between convergence lines and inertia that favours a new anchorage that, in extremis, is inevitably ephemeral. 

10:15 – 11:00
Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn (Lecturer, Srinakarinwirot University, Thailand) 
Le cinéma de Lav Diaz et l’anthropocène 
Like many places in the Global South, Southeast Asian countries have been home to some of the first victims of ecological disasters, such as tsunamis, floods, massive forest fires, and hazy smog. Many Southeast Asian filmmakers, such as Lav Diaz, have studied these ecological issues and included them in their cinematic exploration of the history of the region. That said, the ecological aspect of his work is rarely discussed, in comparison to other aspects frequently associated with the Southeast Asian cinema scholarship, such as the roles of history, and transnationality. As a result, we suggest viewing his work through an ecological lens and argue that the work of Lav Diaz is an example of alternative narrative to the Anthropocene. 

11:00 – 11:30  Coffee break

11:30 – 12:15 
May Adadol Ingawanij (Professor, University of Westminster - London, UK) 
Que peut faire un artiste ?

A recurring question posed by Lav Diaz’s films is what it means to be an artist at a time of the politics of death. My talk situates the dialectical questioning of the value of artistic enunciation, labour, and agency in relation to the historical genealogy of a region’s art, that of the masculinist avant-garde praxis in Southeast Asian modern art and its afterlife. While not usually associated with the canon of Southeast Asian contemporary art, Diaz’s praxis is an exemplary response to its foundational question: what it is to be an artist in the present time, when the legacy of the artist as intelligentsia and male vanguard in underdeveloped societies has become decadent yet retains residual status.  

My talk conceptualises animistic romanticism in Diaz’s practice and the figure of the matriarch as the realm of relations, deep time, ongoingness, and potentiality of life, which are the germinative qualities of his durational process

12:15 – 14:00 Pause déjeuner 

Session 2
The Creative Process 
Moderator: Sylvie Rollet (Emeritus Professor, University of Poitiers, France) 

14:00 – 17:00
Workshop - Lav Diaz (Filmmaker, Editor and Producer) and Hazel Orencio (Actress and Assistant Director, Philippines)

At Work
Discussion avec Marcos Uzal (Critique) & Olivier Zuchuat 

17:00- 17:30 Coffee break 

17:30 – 18:15 
Lav Diaz (Film Director) – Hervé Joubert-Laurencin (Professor, University of Paris X – Nanterre, France) 
Reading André Bazin 

How has reading the writings of André Bazin influenced, fuelled or even upturned the work of a film director? A dialogue between Lav Diaz, reader of Bazin, and Hervé Joubert Laurencin, specialist in the French theoretician’s texts, whose complete written works he published in 2018.


Session 3
The Extreme Violence of History

Moderator: Bertrand Bacqué (Associate professor, HEAD – Genève) 

9:00 – 9:45
Jennifer Verraes (Associate professor, University of Paris 8, France)
Starting (over): The Historical Dramaturgy of Lav Diaz 

In Lav Diaz’s latest film, the Halt (2019), the sun does not rise anymore. Situated in 2034, this is Lav Diaz’s second sci-fi film after Hesus rebolusyonaryo (2002). Norte, the End of History (2013) already picked up on issues mentioned in his first film The Criminal of Barrio Concepcion (1998), borrowed from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, as was his second one. The character of Lerma, a young sleepwalking woman in Naked Under the Moon (1999) returns in the guise of the eponymous Florentina Hubaldo (2012). Although the similarities between the films of Lav Diaz’s formative years in the Filipino film industry and his latest works are real, the repetition is nothing but illusion. For good reason too, it is his inhibited nature that is at work. The aim here is to consider the way in which the filmmaker’s first period directly bears witness to this specific form of historical dramaturgy that is the act of starting (over). 

9:45 – 10:30
Sylvie Rollet (Emeritus Professor, University of Poitiers, France) 
The temporal texture of history according to Lav Diaz
A priority runs through Lav Diaz’s work: unveiling the (officially organis-ed) amnesia that enshrouds the trauma of the Philippines’ collective history, because its repression favoured and still favours its repetition. Transmitting this “history-memory” (Lagny) implies giving it a form, i.e. turning the complexity of its temporal texture into something sensitive. This is why Lav Diaz’s cinema offers us an experience first and foremost: namely the rhythmical conflicts that rip apart historical time. Each of his films (both in terms of story and shot) thus provides a unique combination where determinist law (which underpins the before and after) clashes with the principle of uncertainty that regulates the appearance of the past in the present as well as the sudden emergence of novelty. Three figures emerge—consequence, the revenant and openness—which outline an extremely original vision of history.

10:30 – 11:00   Coffee break 

11:00 – 11:45
Gabriel Bortzmeyer (Researcher, University of Paris 8, France) 
Lav Diaz, an opportunity for the people?
At least two figures run through the work of Lav Diaz and both refer to disaster in inverted yet complementary accounts. They are, the academic who talks about destruction and the destitute person who suffers destruction. Next to them lie a few ghosts: colonists who haunt the spoken language, and an often-evoked yet always absent State (except for the violence). Their cohabitation outlines both the desire of the people and obstacles to that desire, through the unfinished state of the national unconscious and the scattering of people lost in the ruins. Lav Diaz might be seen as someone that both keeps away and maintains this horizon, turning people into raw possibilities.

11:45 – 12:30 
Olivier Zuchuat (Filmmaker, Associate professor, HEAD – Genève, Switzerland & University of Paris 8)
Laying ou the shot

What does time do to space? In Lav Diaz’s films, the duration of both the shots and the film lays out spaces, reveals them and often pits them against each other. “We Filipinos are not governed by the concept of time. We are governed by the concept of space. We don’t believe in time. If we were governed by time, we would be very progressive and productive.” An excerpt from an interview with Lav Diaz from 2012, the observation serves as a basis for this reflection. By studying the spatial structure of the lengthy shots as well as the power of the editing, by addressing the multiple ways characters inhabit the shots (who walk, talk, or assault), we seek to analyse the continuous pressure of time, taking the notion of slow cinema backwards. That pressure digs within the spaces, works to release the forces of differentiation and conflict between places, and helps to address—like archaeologists—buried memories in the landscape. 

Session 4
What men can do to other men
Moderator: Fabienne Costa (Professor, Univerity of Grenoble, France) 

14:30 – 15:15
Corinne Maury (Associate professor, University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France) 
The trial of cruelty. A protest against denial.
In Florentina Hubaldo, CTE (2012) and The Woman who Left (2016), cruelty is relentless and unending. It seeps through the entire story, taking the form of the unspeakable and at times, of the unbearable. In these two tragic frescoes, the female body is a form of alterity subjected to the influence of human, patriarchal, and political tyranny. The radical confrontation of the cinematic shots, their fixedness and  constantly renewed duration turn these exhibitions of violence and cruelty into a protest against the negation of human beings, a manifest outcry against the denial of mankind’s inhumanity.

15:15 – 16:00
Jean-Christophe Ferrari (Film critic, Paris, France) 
The care of the world 
Lav Diaz’s films are rife with nurses and healers as well as sick and wounded people, whether their pain is physical or mental. Sequences where one human being takes care of another are long and moving. Hence, his cinema (like that of Apitchapong Weerasethakul) emphasises the representation of caring, since the act of caring is not reduced to a medical action but also involves an ethical relationship with the other and with the world. Caring does not only mean tending to wounds. Caring can also mean listening, singing, recounting in order to sooth the nightmares and torments of others as well as of a land that is so often hit by natural and political disasters. Lav Diaz’s representation of caring is thus not only a local fact, it informs his cinematic aesthetics. Two questions will guide our lecture: 1) How does one stage the ethics of caring? 2) Can one still take care of the world at a time and in a country where our connection with the world is falling apart (politically, ecologically, etc.)?

16:00 – 16:30   Coffee break

16:30 – 18:00
Final discussion

Lav Diaz (Filmmaker, Editor & Producer) and Hazel Orencio (Actress and Assistant Director, Philippines)
Moderators: Corinne Maury, Marcos Uzal and Olivier Zuchuat

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