MANILA - "I was trying my best na hindi pumatak 'yung luha ko, but wala eh, I couldn't help but get emotional," actor John Lloyd Cruz admitted when asked about why he cried while watching Lav Diaz deliver his acceptance speech at the 73rd Venice Film Festival.
Diaz won the Golden Lion, the top prize of the world's oldest film festival, for "Ang Babaeng Humayo," or "The Woman Who Left." Cruz plays a transgender in the 228-minute long, black-and-white drama topbilled by ABS-CBN chief content officer Charo Santos.
"Because for me, it was a defining moment for Philippine cinema," added Cruz." Talagang proud na proud ako para kay Lav."
Diaz's Venice feat is his second international win this year after taking home the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer prize at the Berlin International Film Festival back in February for his eight-hour historical epic, "Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis."
Diaz dedicated his latest win to the "struggle of Filipinos."
Lauded by critics, "Ang Babaeng Humayo" tells the story of Horacia (Santos), a school teacher who spent 30 years in a correctional facility for a crime she did not commit. The role is Santos' first film foray in nearly two decades.
Released after someone else confesses to the crime, Horacia soon finds out that her husband had long passed away, her daughter had moved out, her son had gone missing, presumed dead, and that a former lover had set her up to be jailed.
The film, produced by Cinema One Originals and Sine Olivia Pilipinas, was also named Best Foreign Language Film at the Sorriso Diverso Venezia 2016 Awards, one of the collateral awards handed out before the Venice Film Festival's major honors. -- with a report from ABS-CBN News' MJ Felipe