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The year is 2034. In Lav Diaz’s sci-fi vision of future, a deadly flu has killed millions, while the sun has stopped shining over South-East Asia. With the Philippines plunged into perpetual darkness, a despotic president grasps his chance to turn the desolated country into an oppressive dystopia.

Across four-and-a-half hours, slow-cinema veteran Diaz (Season of the Devil, MIFF 2018; The Woman Who Left, MIFF 2017) deploys his patient storytelling prowess to tell a politically impassioned portrait of potential times to come – one that, taking cues from his previous historical-leaning work, jumps to another time to reflect upon today’s woes.

As rebel forces rally against their maniacal Filipino ruler, The Halt proves a blistering treatise on power and corruption, as painted across the screen with Diaz’s intoxicatingly detailed and penetrating visuals.

“The emotion of The Halt is never less than bracing, its parody searingly grotesque, and its forlorn atmosphere genuinely distressing … It is impossible to look away from such a direct missive of despair and yearning from inside one of today’s most appalling regimes.” – MUBI Notebook