Venice Golden Lion Winner 'The Woman Who Left' Secures Italian Distribution

The Woman Who Left -Still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Cinema One Originals/Sine Olivia Pilipinas

The 226-minute Lav Diaz film will hit theaters in Italy next year.

This year’s Venice Golden Lion winner, Lav Diaz’s The Woman Who Left, had many wondering whether it would see a life beyond the festival circuit. Running at almost four hours long and shot in black-and-white in Tagalog and English languages, while critically acclaimed, the extended running time presents a challenge for any theatrical distributor. One company in Italy is stepping up to the plate, Microcinema, to bring the film out in a wide release in early 2017.

In The Woman Who Left, a schoolteacher who was a wrongly imprisoned for 30 years plans revenge on her former lover. THR described it as “simple, solid, self-contained and succinct.”

Sam Mendes led the Venice jury that awarded Diaz with the main prize. He said he had hoped that the decision of the jury then would give life to some films beyond the festival. “We’re here to encourage people to come to the cinema and come to see original films,” he said."I hope some of the choices we’ve made will lead audiences to see these films," said Mendes, adding that he hoped that the jury's choices would open up distribution for some of the movies awarded.

A member of the slow cinema movement, who has made some of the longest narrative films on record, Diaz’s latest film is considered to be one of his most accessible. When asked why his films tended to be so long, Diaz, also editor and cinematographer of his movies, told the assembled press in Venice that he is not beholden to any rules. “My cinema is free,” he said.

The Woman Who Left will be Diaz’s first theatrically distributed film in Italy. This year, he also won the Berlin Silver Bear for his eight-hour historical film A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery. In 2014, he won the Locarno Golden Leopard for the nearly six-hour film From What is Before.