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John Lloyd Cruz Bags Best Actor Award at Locarno Film Festival: A Triumph for Filipino Talent

John Lloyd Cruz Locarno Film Festival
Filipino actor John Lloyd Cruz bags the Boccalino d’Oro prize (Golden Jug Award) for Best Actor at the 76th Locarno Film Festival for his remarkable performance in Lav Diaz’s “Essential Truths of the Lake”. Join us as we celebrate this remarkable achievement that showcases Filipino talent on the international stage. Photos from Essential Truth of the Lake and Bianca Balbuena-Liew FB pages.

Filipino talent shined on the global stage as John Lloyd Cruz received the prestigious Boccalino d’Oro prize (Golden Jug Award) given by the Independent Critics Jury of Italy at the 76th Locarno Film Festival (LFF) in Switzerland. Cruz’s breathtaking performance in Lav Diaz’s “Essential Truths of the Lake” not only captivated the audience but also etched a proud moment in Philippine film history.

Cruz, regarded as the “King of Contemporary Cinema” of the Philippines, is only the second Filipino actor to receive the Boccalino d’Oro award after Hazel Orencio in 2014 for another Diaz film, “Mula sa Kung Ano Ang Noon” (From What is Before).

Cruz won the acting award for his role as Lieutenant Hermes Papauran who investigates a 15-year-old case against the backdrop of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug war.

Producer Bianca Balbuena-Liew posted the citation given to John Lloyd Cruz, which reads: “An extraordinary actor, in a role far removed from the Hollywood forerunners, draws with class the figure of a policeman attentive to the moral and civil value of his being at the service of the people and not of oppressive power. An actor capable of illuminating the cinematic work of a master like Lav Diaz.”

Essential Truths of the Lake is the country’s entry and the only Southeast Asian film in Locarno’s Concorso Internazionale this year. The film is part of a trilogy of stories about Cruz’s character, Hermes Papauran. Diaz’s previous film, “When the Waves Are Gone” which premiered in Venice last year, is the first in the series.

The film’s Facebook page and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) announced the win on August 11, 2023. “It is with great joy and pride that I congratulate one of the most talented artists in our country, Mr. John Lloyd Cruz,” FDCP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tirso Cruz III said in a statement. “This award is much deserved by an artist of his caliber. Lloydie, congratulations and thank you for bringing honor to our country,” he added.

In the LFF Q&A session for Essential Truths of the Lake, the film’s director, writer, editor, and co-cinematographer Lav Diaz together with lead actors John Lloyd Cruz and Shaina Magdayao, actor-assistant manager and production manager Hazel Orencio, and producers Bianca Balbuena-Liew and Bradley Liew were asked about the importance of bringing the nuance of sympathetic representation of policemen towards the character of John Lloyd. Diaz, a former beat reporter, said that it was important to look at the other side of the police and that there are in fact, many good policemen in the Philippines.

Additionally, the director’s note posted on the film festival website introduces the film with the following description: “What can a good policeman do in the face of Duterte’s murderous wrath? Lt. Papauran fixates on the deep mystery of a cold case he has been trying to solve for years. Great investigators are obsessive visionaries. They are also human beings.”

In the video of his acceptance speech posted by the film’s FB page, Cruz can be seen dedicating his award to murder victims and their bereaved loved ones.

“Para sa Pilipinas, para sa Pilipino, para sa lahat ng pinatay at mga naiwan nila [for the Philippines, for Filipinos, for those who were killed, and the people they left behind],” the actor said.

Essential Truths of the Lake marks Lav Diaz’s return to Locarno after nine years, when he won the top Golden Leopard Prize for “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon (From What is Before)”, the same film that made history for Hazel Orencio as the first Filipino to win a Swiss Critics Boccalino award with the Best Actress recognition.

The Locarno Film Festival was created to serve as a stage for the revival of artistic freedom, and from its beginning, it has screened the most daring, cutting-edge, and avant-garde motion pictures. To hold an intense, 11-day celebration of cinema, the city of Locarno, which is nestled between the mountains and the Swiss coast of Lake Maggiore, dons its festival colors of yellow and black once a year.

Before this year’s prestigious recognition for John Lloyd Cruz, he was honored as an Asian Star at the 15th New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) Awards for his portrayal of the lead role in the crime-drama thriller “Honor Thy Father,” a film by Erik Matti. Lav Diaz also bagged the Golden Lion Prize for Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival for the film “Ang Babaeng Humayo” in 2016 and won the Silver Bear for the 8-hour film “Hele” at the 66th Berlinale in the same year.

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to John Lloyd Cruz and the film team of Essential Truths of the Lake for their big win at the Locarno Film Festival!

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Junie Mae N. Batocael
Junie Mae N. Batocael
Not just any student, but a BA Journalism student currently in my senior year! A future-known journalist, and yup - that`s me, Junie. Feature writer and editor of Ang Kawayan (2011–2012), Ang Trailblazer (2013–2015), and Panitik Imuseno (2016) serving you with factual good news.

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