Thirty years earlier, two best friends rob a bank. One goes to prison, the other returns to their home island with the money and becomes its tyrant ruler. For over 30 years, he uses his influence to keep his friend locked up in prison. Present day, monsoon season: the prisoner is set free after fulfilling his duties as a prison hit man. He leaves the prison under the cover of night on a little boat, navigating the dark Pacific Ocean’s angry waves to his home island on the eastern tip of the Philippines. Once home, he recognises no one and no one recognises him. By day, he takes shelter in a boarded-up house plotting revenge.
As the storm season ends, the town is peaceful and calm. He finally goes out into the sun for the first time and reveals himself to his best friend. He kills him and his family. In a haze of madness, he realises he has freed his friend of his guilt, revenge has not returned his lost youth and the island is empty. Wounded, he goes to the shore and lets the waves take his body out to sea.
A man is a beast first, and then he becomes human. Or, he becomes human by way of knowing himself, and then he struggles to define his existence and he will either attain transcendence, or he will become a beast again. This defines the dialectics of When the Waves Are Gone.
This film is my reaction to all that is happening in my motherland.
Director: Lav Diaz
Producers: Epicmedia Productions Inc. (Philippines), Sini Olivia Pilipinas (Philippines), Snowglobe (Denmark), Films Boutique (France)
European WCF partner: Snowglobe (Denmark)
World sales: Films Boutique (France)
Funded in the WCF jury meeting in November 2018
Funding amount: 30.000 €