After creating Philippine cinema history by winning the prestigious Golden Lion for Best Film award at the recent Venice Film Festival, Lav Diaz’s “Ang Babaeng Humayo” once again created a buzz among movie critics, this time, at the film’s North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
In an article written by Lorenzo Esposito of Cinema Scope, he said, “If there’s someone who thinks that The Woman Who Left is a minor Lav Diaz film—because it’s the second one this year, or because, at 227 minutes, it’s “short” for him—let’s say up front that this is one of his best.”
Ben Nicholson of Cine Vue, meanwhile, gave the Cinema One Originals and Sine Olivia-produced film four out of five stars and even described lead star Charo Santos’ performance as Horacia as “incredible” and “magnetic.”
Charo, upon her arrival in Toronto, shared in an interview how happy she is for director Lav Diaz with the Golden Lion win.
“It makes me proud and very happy for Lav Diaz. He really deserves this. When we talked in March, we said we would only make a movie. We are just going to have fun. But this is more than just having fun. This is a great adventure, and really, a most unforgettable moment,” Charo said.
Cinema One head Ronald Arguelles, who is one of the producers of the film, is also ecstatic with the unexpected win.
“We are just very happy already that we won the Golden Lion. It’s an achievement itself. We didn’t expect that a small film could win the award,” he said.
Ronald was among the team who joined Lav, Charo, and John Lloyd Cruz at the Venice Film Festival where he described the internationally-acclaimed director as a film ‘rock star.’
“Ang Babaeng Humayo,” with the international title “The Woman Who Left,” tells the story of Horacia (Charo Santos), a woman seeking revenge after being convicted for decades for a crime she didn’t commit.
The film, which marks the movie comeback of former ABS-CBN president and CEO, and now chief content officer Charo, was originally produced to open this year’s Cinema One Originals independent film competition.
With this landmark achievement, Ronald hopes the Golden Lion award win can leverage Cinema One’s business as it aims to produce more films like “Ang Babaeng Humayo.”
“We have a worldwide distributor for our films, Films Boutique. The Golden Lion honor will definitely help them sell, and hopefully, we can produce more films. We can now attract big filmmakers to do a film with us,” he shared.
Ronald also confirmed that the local cinema exhibition is already in the works, but they have yet to finalize the playdates.
Aside from Lav's cinematic masterpiece by Lav and Charo's critically acclaimed performance, viewers can also look forward to the provocative performance of actor John Lloyd Cruz as Hollanda, a transgender prostitute.
In an interview with “TV Patrol,” John Lloyd gave a glimpse of his character.
“She dresses like a woman. But she has not undergone surgery. In the story, Hollanda is changed by Ma'am Charo's character.”
He also recounted his Venice Film Fest experience and shared what an emotional moment it was for him.
“I was trying my best to not cry. But I couldn't help but be really emotional. For me, it’s a defining moment for Philippine cinema. We were also approached by the jury during the after party and they were telling us how the film affected them.”