Someone told us that Lav Diaz’s new film Florentina Hubaldo, CTE was four hours long, which in the context of his filmography is a short film. But the Cinemanila 2012 schedule listed its running time at 5 hours. In fact it is 6 hours long, and here’s the amazing thing: It feels longer than six hours, but at no point did we have the urge to walk out. We had to see how it would turn out, and when the credits appeared, we cried, “Bitin!”
We actually wanted more.
Florentina Hubaldo, CTE is brilliant, and we say this though we still don’t know what “CTE”* means. It is both slow and gripping. The point of the 6 hours is to make you feel the passage of time. The black and white photography is stunning (Diaz did his own camera work, apart from writing, directing and editing). There is no acting, nothing that feels contrived or phony. It is not for everyone, but if you commit, you will find yourself richly rewarded.
At this time there are no other screenings scheduled, but check the Cinemanila schedule for updates.
* Checked with the filmmaker. CTE is “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple concussions and other forms of head injury.”
(Helpful tips: Bring coffee and snacks. If like us you have difficulty sitting still for a long time, take notes in the dark. Don’t look because you’ll hurt your eyes. We started taking notes on our phone but we switched to pen and paper so we didn’t have to take our eyes off the screen. If you have to, take walks periodically. Go out and buy a banh mi baguette.)