John Arcilla gets job done, wins best actor in Venice Film Festival
For his role as an unscrupulous journalist seeking redemption in director Erik Matti’s political crime thriller, “On the Job 2: The Missing 8” (OTJ2), John Arcilla became the first Southeast Asian talent to win the Volpi Cup for best actor at the 78th Venice Film Festival on Sunday (Manila time).
The film was the country’s lone representative to the prestigious film festival in Italy, with Arcilla besting Benedict Cumberbatch, who starred in “The Power of the Dog,” and American actor Oscar Isaac, from “The Card Counter.”
“If there’s one thing that I regret, it’s that I will not be able to have my photo taken while kissing my own Volpi Cup on that red carpet in Venice just like the other 77 great actors whom I all admire and who have already kissed their own. This is the most wonderful and prestigious award that an actor can have,” Arcilla said in his acceptance speech delivered online.
“I’m the happiest actor tonight also because I know we come from different countries and we have different languages and cultures, yet I can feel the oneness tonight … because of the art of cinema,” he added.
The actor is currently in Ilocos Sur where he is shooting the TV series “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.”
“John did a really good job,” Matti said as he accepted the award on Arcilla’s behalf.
He later told the actor in an Instagram post: “Now, how do I bring this home? It’s one heavy piece of cup! Congratulations! You deserve it!”
Welcomed by the world
“I hope people don’t think I’m being boastful,” Arcilla said when Inquirer Entertainment asked him in a virtual chat on Sunday what he thought earned him the judges’ nod. “If I beat these global actors then that means I did something that surpassed what they have done for that particular festival. They say you’re only as good as your last performance and this particular performance of mine was probably better than what the other actors offered. This means I am now being welcomed by the world.”
“It’s overwhelming to know that I am now capable of performing at a level that can be understood not just by Filipinos but also by the global audience, and that my talent is appreciated by these global judges when it comes to film acting and filmmaking,” he added. “I’ve always been proud of the fact that I started as a starving artist, earning only P3,000 a month as a theater actor. All these are the fruits of my labor.”
“OTJ2” is the sequel to the 2013 action flick that featured Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson and Joey Marquez.
Two nights before Arcilla bagged the trophy, he faced local movie scribes at a virtual gathering organized by his home network, ABS-CBN, and HBO GO, which started streaming the “OTJ” series on Sept. 12.
“I want to become a global actor. I want to be able to make films produced by and released in different countries. I want to represent Filipinos in the international scene. Whether we like it or not, we already have a big role in the evolution of the world in terms of filmmaking. Filipinos have been all over the globe—already showing the things that only [we] can do as early as the 18th century, during the time of Jose Rizal,” he said.
If there would be “significant” roles for Filipinos—“since we’re already members and big contributors to various global communities”—Arcilla said he would want to “hit that niche market, while at the same time maintaining the acting standards I’ve set for myself. I guess we will not get the roles we desire if producers think we can’t meet the requirements.”
The actor’s role in “OJT2” was described by the American magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, “as pure fantasy.” But it said Arcilla’s performance was “possessed of a bracingly righteous anger at a debased form of governance that transcends borders.”
Other winners in the film festival were “Happening” (L’événement), a hard-hitting French drama about illegal abortion in the 1960s, which got the Golden Lion award for best film; Penelope Cruz for best actress for her role as a single mother in Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers” and New Zealand’s Jane Campion, who took the Silver Lion for best director with 1920s frontier saga “The Power of the Dog.”
—WITH REPORTS FROM AFP AND REUTERS
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