MANILA — Breakout star Elijah Canlas said he was in disbelief Tuesday night after being announced this year’s best actor by the prestigious Gawad Urian.
Canlas, 20, clinched the top acting prize for his title role in “Kalel, 15,” as announced in a virtual ceremony held by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
In the film by Jun Lana, which was also nominated in several other categories including best director and best picture, Canlas portrayed a 15-year-old boy who navigates a secret life and grapples with being HIV-positive.
The film also won best screenplay for Lana.
Canlas bested 9 others in the crowded best actor category that included film veteran Joel Lamangan (“Ang Hupa”), heartthrob actor Alden Richards (“Hello, Love, Goodbye”), and fellow showbiz neophytes Gold Azeron (“Metamorphosis”) and Jansen Magpusao (“John Denver Trending”).
“I am at a loss for words!” Canlas tweeted after the announcement, thanking the film critics group, as well as his fans, family, and creative team behind his breakthrough film.
“I am still in shock! Can’t believe this just happened! You all don’t know how much this means to me! But even more than that, I hope this helps continue the conversation about HIV,” he wrote.
Canlas also teased the possibility of “Kalel, 15” having a wide release, but did not yet provide details.
The film earlier fetched Canlas the best actor trophy in the 17th Asian Film Festival in Rome, Italy.
The latest accolade for Canlas’ performance in “Kalel, 15” comes amid the popularity of the boys love series “Gameboys,” also an IdeaFirst Company production where he co-stars with Kokoy de Santos.