MANILA — The international jury at this year’s Venice Film Festival wanted both “On The Job: The Missing 8” lead stars John Arcilla and Dennis Trillo to win best actor, according to producer Quark Henares.
Henares, in a series of tweets on Wednesday, recalled an exchange where jury members told Trillo, who physically attended the event in Italy, that they had wanted him, too, to take home the Volpi Cup for Best Actor.
Trillo and Henares met the jury president, “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho, shortly after the awarding ceremony where the Oscar-winning filmmaker announced Arcilla’s history-making win.
Trillo, according to Henares, is a big fan of Bong, and didn’t let pass the opportunity to personally greet him when the ceremony concluded.
“I dragged Dennis to him and yelled, ‘Director Bong! I produced On The Job and this…’ Bong’s eyes lit up and he told Dennis he loved his performance, which surprised me because Dennis is hardly recognizable in the film,” Henares said.
In the Erik Matti film, Trillo portrays Roman, a prisoner who is regularly freed to perform assassinations. For the role, Trillo wore prosthetics so he would appear to have a large, broken nose and crooked teeth. Matti previously said Trillo, an in-demand leading man in the Philippines, simply looked “too handsome” for the character he had envisioned.
The rest of the jury heaped praise on Trillo’s portrayal as Roman, when they joined Bong in congratulating the actor and Henares, the producer recounted.
“Bong then motioned to the jury members and they all excitedly swarmed Dennis. Cynthia Erivo told him she thought he was excellent (and holy shit C.E. is herself one of my favorite young actresses) and Sarah Gadon delightedly said he looked so different,” he said, referring to the English actress-singer and the Canadian actress, respectively.
It was during that same huddle when Trillo was told that the jury had wanted both him and Arcilla to share the best actor trophy.
Jury member Chloe Zhao told Trillo, “If we could give a joint award, we would give both of you, but we are not allowed to,” as seen in a video clip posted by Henares.
The Chinese-born Zhao is the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind “Nomadland” and the upcoming “Eternals” from Marvel Studios.
“She said she Googled him because she thought he was a real prisoner only to find out he was a matinee idol of some sort,” Henares shared.
During the dinner, Bong also got to speak with Matti and the rest of the “On The Job” team who were present. He joined the group’s table “for a bit,” according to Henares, and asked Matti a range of questions about the film, its soundtrack, the shooting locations, and production budget.
“When the Golden Lion winner came in, everyone applauded and looked at them. As soon as they passed our table, [Bong] turned back to us and said, ‘Okay, now we can continue talking about ‘On The Job,’” Henares narrated.
The Golden Lion is the highest award given to a film in Venice. Previous winners include Zhao’s “Nomadland” (2020) and Filipino director Lav Diaz’s “Ang Babaeng Humayo” (2016). This year, the French abortion drama “Happening,” by Audrey Diwan, brought home the trophy.
During Bong’s time spent with the Philippine group, he was asked numerous times about his own films and other Venice entries, Henares said. The acclaimed director however, would “politely answer and turn the topic back to ‘On The Job.’”
“He seemed to really love the film. He left after a while to do Jury President duties but stopped by before leaving to give [Matti] a hug,” he wrote.
After its critical success in Venice, “On The Job: The Missing 8” is now available as a series on HBO Go.
The sequel comprises the latter four of the six total episodes of the series, while the first film, originally released in 2013, is halved as the pilot and second episodes, re-edited and with additional scenes.