Lav's Journey in the Festival's History
I can’t remember the exact year I saw this film, Michael Haneke’s first film. But I know it was during the mid-nineties, so it could be around 1994, 1995, 1996 or 1997, in New York City. It was all toil, toil and dream for me then, art and otherwise, with the city’s underbelly, underground, and with the understanding, at least in my head then, that no matter what, I shall end up, one day, doing cinema. I was doing three or four jobs, the desk job with a Filipino newspaper being the main gig, and the money from it I was sending to my family in the Philippines, and on the side, I was doing odd jobs for survival and more importantly, for the pursuance of cinema, so to speak, the money spent for the procurement of those very expensive 16mm rolls. The in-betweens, during the so-called free periods and freer times, were spent on watching a lot of cinema; and truckloads of rented VHS was my cinema diet then. I remember having the scariest feeling after watching The Seventh Continent; that I remember clearly even today; it was a deadly cold winter’s night and I went for a real good, strong coffee and dirty cheese cake from my favorite Catholic Arab deli. The scare I got wasn’t anything like the cliched ‘horror-trip experience’ one gets from the genre but deep in this film’s simplicity and mystery, there was an exactness in its engagement of real life’s horrors, and it is just that—that life itself is the horror, or YOU are the horror. Pessimism is an essential truth in this film, and it’s up to you if you’ll accept it. There is no escaping this hell called life. I accepted it, but not in resignation.
– Lav Diaz