'Genus Pan' is the only PH entry at the 2020 Venice Film Festival

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“Lahi, Hayop” is Diaz’s urgent look at how some people still retain the demeanor and qualities of the chimpanzee. The film's actors include (in photo) Nanding Josef and Bart Guingona. Photo courtesy of SINE OLIVIA

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The Venice International Film Festival recently announced the lineup of its 77th edition, which includes Lav Diaz’s “Lahi, Hayop” (Genus Pan) in the Orrizonti section. "Lahi, Hayop" is the only Filipino film in the festival, which will be held on September 2 to 12 in Venice, Italy. The film is 150 minutes long and stars Bart Guingona, DMs Boongaling, Nanding Josef, Hazel Orencio, Joel Saracho, Lolita Carbon, and Noel Sto. Domingo.

In a statement, the celebrated auteur, who won the festival’s top award, Golden Lion in 2016 for “Ang Babaeng Humayo” (The Woman Who Left), said that “Lahi, Hayop” is his desire to “make a film about animals; but, man as animals, man honestly acting like one, an animal, as he has been acting like an animal all his life anyway.”

The film is an exploration of our animal instinct: violent, aggressive, obsessive, transgressive, imposing, envious, territorial, and narcissistic “Very much like our cousin, the genus pan,” said Diaz.

“Lahi, Hayop” is very much Diaz’s meditation of the times, an urgent look at how some people still retain the demeanor and qualities of the chimpanzee. Yet, the film also offers hope, that man can self-actualize and complete his true self.

Diaz will not be in attendance for the premiere due to COVID-19 restrictions and will participate virtually instead.

The Orrizonti is the film festival’s section for the latest trends and aesthetics in international cinema. “Lahi, Hayop” will be competing with the new films of Gia Coppola, Jing Wang, Uberto Pasolini, and other filmmakers from around the world.

The announcement of the film festival's lineup is a big step for world cinema during the time of the pandemic, with Venice being the first of the big international film festivals to continue its screenings. Physical distancing measures and temperature checks will be observed. Those attending the festival will be required to wear masks. 

Diaz has been a fixture of sorts at the festival. His other films at the Venice Film Festival includes “Kagadanan sa Banwaan ning mga Engkanto” (Death in the Land of Encantos, 2007), which was awarded with a Golden Lion Special Mention; “Melancholia,” which won the Orrizonti Prize in 2008; and “Siglo ng Pagluluwal” (Century of Birthing, 2011).