John Arcilla wins Best Actor in Venice Film Festival

John Arcilla in a scene from ‘On The Job: The Missing 8’

Acclaimed actor John Arcilla adds another feather to his cap Sunday (Manila time) when he won the Best Actor award at the 78th Venice Film Festival for his performance in Erik Matti’s On the Job: The Missing 8.

Arcilla, who has already won six acting awards in a distinguished career was previously honored by several award-giving bodies in the Philippines for memorable performances in the films, Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin, Halaw, Supot, Birdshot and in his most famous role to date, Heneral Luna.

The actor also received citations and nominations for equally acclaimed films like Sa North Diversion Road, Himpapawid and Metro Manila and had a small but pivotal role in the Hollywood production of The Bourne Legacy.

Starting in 2017, Arcilla also became a household name when he was cast in the antagonist role of Renato “Buwitre” Hipolito in the hit TV series, Ang Probinsyano.

On The Job: The Missing 8 expands the story Matti and screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto started in his original On The Job, a neo-noir political action thriller that had its world premiere at the 2013 Cannes International Film Festival.

On The Job went on to become a critical and commercial success. But the clamor for a sequel did not come to fruition until 2016 when Reality Entertainment, the production company headed by Matti and producer Dondon Monteverde, joined forces with Globe Studios and, at the time, the now-defunct streaming service, Hooq, to produce On The Job: The Missing 8, intended to be a mini-series

Back then, a slightly different cast was announced and presented to media including Bela Padilla, who did not appear in the finished product and rising character actor Teroy Guzman as Sisoy, the role Arcilla eventually took over and won the award for.

But the project’s development took a little longer with Matti occasionally updating its progress on his Facebook page. With Hooq no longer in the picture, the finished product, produced by Reality Studios and Globe Studios eventually ended up as an HBO Asia Originals Series.

In addition to Arcilla, other significant additions to the cast include Dennis Trillo, Dante Rivero and Lotlot de Leon.

When it finally had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival as the only Southeast Asian entry in the main competition, On The Job: The Missing 8 was greeted with a five-minute standing ovation.

John Arcilla during his acceptance speech

Arcilla was not present in Venice to personally accept the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) award for his performance. Instead, the actor delivered his acceptance speech via remote video while Matti accepted the award on his behalf. The video of Arcilla’s speech was later shared by fellow cast member Dennis Trillo on Instagram.

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A post shared by Dennis Trillo (@dennistrillo)

“If there’s something that I really regret tonight, its because that I will not be able to kiss my own Volpi Cup there, in the middle of Venice and on that red carpet, just like the other great 77 actors whom I admire, who have already kissed their own, this most wonderful and prestigious award that one actor can have,” Arcilla noted in his speech.

Previous winners of the Volci Cup include popular Hollywood actors Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Willem Dafoe. 

Arcilla’s victory was hailed by Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño as a Chairperson as “an inspiration to our filmmakers and the industry.”

“Despite the uncontrollable circumstances of this pandemic, OTJ made its way to Venice and is [now streaming] on HBO. We are happy to support the film and are hoping that it will also receive the same support from our Filipino audiences as much as it has in the international arena,” Diño further noted in an FDCP statement. 

The film screened in Venice is an abridged version of the mini-series of the same title that will premiere on the streaming service, HBO Go on September 12. 


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