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HBO Asia’s ‘On The Job’ from PHL wins in Venice

John Arcilla in On The Job.

Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver, Joaquin Phoenix…you can now add a Filipino to this list of Volpi Cup winners at the Venice Film Festival.

John Arcilla, who plays the character of Sisoy Salas in HBO Asia’s On The Job, won Best Actor at the 78th Venice Film Festival, becoming the first Filipino to win the coveted award.

In his acceptance speech, Arcilla said: “We come from different countries with different languages and cultures, and yet I can feel oneness tonight…that you understand me and we understand each other—all because of the arts and cinema. Thank you so much!”

The HBO Asia crime thriller from the Philippines (#OTJobHBOGO) premiered exclusively on September 12 on HBO GO. Three episodes of the six-part original series are now available to stream with new episodes every Sunday.

The long-form theatrical version—On the Job: The Missing 8—was the only title from Asia that was in-competition at the 78th Venice Film Festival. It received a five-minute standing ovation at the event.

Inspired by true events, the series centers around crime syndicates that temporarily release contracted prison inmates to carry out political assassinations for those in power, except that the crime syndicates are run by politicians. Hitmen prisoners Tatang (Joel Torre), Daniel (Gerald Anderson), and Roman (Dennis Trillo) are occasionally released from jail to perform assassinations ordered by powerful mysterious clients.

Meanwhile, law enforcers Joaquin (Joey Marquez) and Francis (Piolo Pascual), and corrupt newspaper reporter Sisoy (Arcilla) and journalist Arnel (Christopher de Leon) try to uncover the truth behind the killings and disappearances.

The series puts a spotlight on the real-world predicament concerning fake news and how easily truth can be manufactured and disseminated to the public in today’s age of information.

On The Job was conceived and directed by Erik Matti, who was in Venice this weekend to accept the award on Arcilla’s behalf. It also stars Dante Rivero (Mayor Pedring Eusebio) and Lotlot de Leon (Weng).

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