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Slow-cinema master Lav Diaz returns with another mordantly meditative piece – one that nabbed him Venice’s Orizzonti Best Director gong.

A fable of darkest humanity, the latest from Filipino auteur Lav Diaz (Season of the Devil, MIFF 2018; Norte, the End of History, MIFF 2014) follows three labourers who flee their exploitative working conditions to return to their poverty-stricken, superstition-steeped island home. Trekking through treacherous jungle to reach their village, Baldo, Paulo and Andres soon find themselves plunged into amorality, violence and paganism.

Eschewing his notoriously epic runtimes for a relatively brisk two-and-a-half hours, Diaz – who takes on writing, directing, producing, shooting and editing duties here – nonetheless delivers another sweeping, symbolically complex work. Rich with his signature black-and-white cinematography, explorations of faith and folk myth, interrogations of colonisation and musings on human nature, Genus Pan is a bleak but brilliant trip through our species’ psychology at its most harrowing.

“A blistering allegory for humanity’s inescapable death cycle … With this punishing and often rewarding drama, Diaz paints even the best of us as monsters in the making.” – The Film Stage