Finally, my first Lav Diaz film! Contrary to his often long hours of slow cinema, amounting to 11 hours at most, Nang Matapos Ang Ulan is only eight minutes so it’s an easy introduction for me. That’s what I thought.
Released as a part of 20 five minute shorts in Imahe Nasyon (yes, Lav Diaz’s film is three minutes over the requirement), several Filipino filmmakers were asked to create films that would mirror the aftermath of the Marcos dictatorship.
In Nang Matapos Ang Ulan, the whole story was told in just one perspective: an open door where the camera is at a low angle, motionless, and the color tone is in sepia. There were only three persons seen in the film: a woman, a man, and a child –all were shown on separate frames. The film runs slow and while it is easy to complain about its existence in full length feature films, the same could not be said for this piece, no matter how much nothing is happening.
In the beginning, we see a woman standing in the door with an umbrella on her hand, then the narrator relates his childhood when he saw his mother leave when the rain stopped. Next thing we see is the woman leaving the house, opening the frame to what seemed to be an empty lot in front the house, near a highway.
For four minutes, I hear my own clock ticking and the film shows nothing but that open space, with only a few cars passing by. After that a man arrives from behind, then walks away and leaves.
During this time, I don’t know what to expect or if I was even expecting something. The film is quiet for the most part but it is communicating in silence, asking for patience.
Toward the end of the film, we see a giddy young boy entering the frame, and for the first time, someone’s now facing the camera as if talking to the audience directly. Then we hear the narrator say “I found myself.”
Due to the nature of the film being quiet, the piece sticked with me like a new friend I’d want to get to know more. The charm of the film lies within the spaces it left for the audience to fill. There’s a lot of things that could be interpreted differently about the film, and all of it would be possible. Here Lav Diaz proves that he is not the only scriptwriter of the film, but the audience too. And that’s the most beautiful thing about it.