‘John Denver Trending’ breakthrough actor excited about Busan fest, 1st trip abroad
With his award-winning performance in the film “John Denver Trending,” Jansen Magpusao brought pride to the people of Pandan, Antique. In return, the people feted their boy—their best actor—with a feast.
Shortly after the movie hauled six awards at the recent Cinemalaya film festival, the young breakthrough talent, together with his director and kababayan, Arden Rod Condez, made a trip back to their hometown, where they were welcomed like local heroes.
They were escorted by a caravan on their hour-long drive to Pandan. As they neared their destination, they were greeted by people lining the roads and waving white flaglets under the searing heat. In the town proper, classes in schools were cut short. Tarpaulins of Jansen were everywhere. The sound of a marching band filled the air.
And at the town plaza, hordes of excited Pandanons awaited them.
“I surprised … wondering why all that was happening,” Jansen told the Inquirer at a send-off press conference mounted by the Film Development Council of the Philippines for the local movies taking part in the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF).
“I was so happy. My family has been supportive and I feel like they have become even more proud of me,” he added. “But I also felt a little shy.”
The 15-year-old newbie is indeed quite reserved and still seemingly overwhelmed by it all. Every so often, Arden had to offer to do the talking for Jansen.
“It was the first time a movie was shot in Pandan. Many of the actors were from there. So this is a big deal for us,” the director said of “John Denver,” which won best movie, best editing, best cinematography and best musical score. It also received recognition from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema
The drama film, which tackles bullying among the youth in the age of social media, has been selected as one of the entries in the BIFF’s New Currents section (screening dates: Oct. 6, 8 and 9).
“We received the news the day after we won in Cinemalaya,” Arden said. “We still can’t believe what the film has managed to achieve. We saw ourselves as underdogs, because our budget was limited and we were up against movies backed by bigger production outfits.”
“But aside from the awards, we’re also happy that we did quite well in the box-office,” he added. “We’re still trying to process everything right now.”
After winning his first acting award for his first ever film, Jansen was already ready for his first overseas trip.
“I want to go sightseeing, maybe eat local food,” said Jansen, who also plans to visit Seoul with the rest of the team during their off days in Busan. “I’m happy. But I’m also nervous about doing interviews. I’m afraid I may not articulate my thoughts well.”
While he doesn’t see himself pursuing show biz full-time at the moment, Jansen is not closing his doors to that prospect. “I want to finish my studies first,” the Grade 10 student stressed, adding that he had actually just finished his exams. “But maybe I can do a project during our breaks.”
Teased about the attention he has been getting, Jansen gave a bashful smile and shook his head. “Some of my friends tell me, ‘O, baka hindi mo na kami pansinin!’” he related. “But nothing has changed. My life is pretty much the same.”