Lav Diaz’ Interview Responses Are Almost As Long (& Great) As His Films

Filipino filmmaker Lav Diaz, whose 4-hour-plus NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY screens as part of our Essential Cinema series on December 4, was interviewed by Andrea Picard of Cinema Scope last year and it’s one of the best interviews we’ve read in a long time.

Here’s a sample:

On the impossibility of submitting a list of Top 10 films of all time to Sight and Sound

Diaz: This is the most abused exercise in cinema. Top 10 films, or, The Greatest 100 Films of All Time, or, 1000 Essential Films. And why do we do it still, ad infinitum, ad nauseum? Honestly, it just feeds the ego of the ones who do it, and, of course, of the ones mentioned. They will actually kill or die for it. It boggles the mind. But then it’s a valid exercise. And I respect people who do it, no matter how idiotic their choices/discourses sometimes are. I’ll even defend them. Yes, the canon, like it or not, is a necessary evil. Canon-making built so many sects and churches of cinema. Godard ran away from it, scared shitless upon realizing that Narcissus is staring at him in his favourite mirror, himself. But then he’s a god who created cinema, so he can’t destroy it, and we dread the day when he will finally leave cinema because he is infinitely a part of the Top 10 and The Greatest 100 Films of All Time and the 1000 Essential Films. In North Korea, the cinemaniac and late megalomaniac Kim Jong-il actually imposed a canon, all films starring himself, waving, smiling, visiting troops and factories, kissing babies, hugging the blind, praising uranium in thickly clogged shoes and propagating hairmania. And we know what happened and what is still happening in sad, sad North Korea. The wisdom and analogy is never, ever trust the canon. Keep an open mind but always keep Kim in mind. By keeping an open mind, we understand that the canon is part of the greater discourse of cinema; that’s short of saying that it’s still relevant. And I don’t think it’s elitist. Greater discourse always begs the proverbial question: “Do we really know the real Socrates?” or, putting it in a direct way: “Do we really know cinema?”