BY RICKY GALLARDO
SUNDAY, 09 SEPTEMBER 2012
DESPITE not being honored with any award when the 69th Venice International Film Festival main competition jury handed out the plums over the weekend, the Philippine delegation that represented the entry Thy Womb has every reason to stand tall and proud.
The legendary actor Nora Aunor, who impressed many international critics, bloggers and film aficionados in Venice for her stirring portrayal of an impotent Badjao midwife in the Brillante Mendoza film, told us that the “experience itself is priceless.”
“I will never forget Venice. I am thankful that Brillante chose me to be part of this film. I am proud of this film. I am proud to be a Filipino,” she told us in English. The jury, led by American film director Michael Mann, and composed of actress Samantha Morton, artist Marina Abramovic and respectable filmmakers Matteo Garrone and Pablo Trapero, awarded the festival’s most coveted plum, the Golden Lion or Best Film, to South Korea’s very dark drama Pieta, directed by Kim Ki-Duk. The film bested 17 other movies from around the world that made it into the main competition short list.
As expected, Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman shared the best actor prize for their brilliant work in The Masters.Reports have it that a few hours before the awards ceremony, the jury members were set to give both the film and directing awards to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master but new rules from the festival prevent a competing film from winning more than two awards. So they gave the best film award to South Korea’s Pieta instead.
French filmmaker Olivier Assayas took home the best screenplay plum for Something in the Air, while Israel’s Hadas Yaron won the best actress plum, perhaps the most eagerly awaited category among the throngs of supporters of Nora Aunor. We chatted with a journalist friend from Spain who was in Venice to cover the world’s oldest film festival, and she wrote that Nora’s star shone brightly in the few days she was in Venice. “Your lead actress stood tall, from the time she walked the red carpet to her entrance at the awards ceremonies. She might look short and fragile at first glance, but she was riveting in the Mendoza film and she certainly turned lots of heads in Venezia.”
From the day Nora Aunor walked the red carpet with Mendoza, actors Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral, producers Larry Castillo and Melvin Mangada, social-networking sites have been teeming with reports of how impressed the foreign critics were and how much Nora was loved by the media covering the event. We can imagine how huge a disappointment it must be that Nora did not get the jury’s nod for the lead actress plum but I guess Filipinos will have to be realistic and accept the truth.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Nora Aunor may not have walked away with Venice’s Volpi Cup, but she was the top choice of a jury of independent film critics outside of the film festival. The Premio Della Critica Indipendiente honored her with the Bisato d’Oro Award for Best Actress for her work in Thy Womb. She is the first and only Filipino to win the plum from the Venetian film critics group.)
Next stop for Thy Womb will be at the Toronto International Film Festival but Nora Aunor will not be part of the delegation there.