The appointment was set quite early in the morning on the last day of the Venice Film Festival. The winners of the Lions were not known yet, but his film The Woman Who Left, starring the magnificent actress Charo Santoso Conchos, immediately won the 73rd Golden Lion.
It is not the first time that Lav Diaz, a Philippine filmmaker and one of the most charismatic contemporary directors, presented his films at the Lido, but it is the first time he entered a film in the competition. Actually, we discovered here, and also at the Rotterdam Festival, his tragic and epic heroes inserted in the faceted story of a country, the Philippines, its history and its present, along the thread of colonialism, oppression of class, cultural bewilderment and the Catholic bedazzlement spanning the centuries. And at the same time, he invents a cinema that cuts across space, time, emotional and political chiaroscuro, the geometries of power and his addiction.
The Woman Who Left reminds us of Kerouac’s On the Road even if the story does not leave the island of Mindanao, where it is set, until the very end.
All the characters in my film are looking for something: Horacia goes after revenge, a desire that takes over her promise to find the son she lost while she was in prison. Hollanda, the transsexual, finds death as an extreme act against the society that has massacred her, and with it, she finds redemption. The young beggar is looking for salvation from the demons she sees in every person around her. Horacia’s path and the others she meets along the way becomes an emotional search, a kind of journey of the soul.